One beautiful day while our family was anchored in a cove on Catalina Island, off the California coast, the strong Santa Ana winds started to blow. In the middle of the night we realized we were in a precarious position. The winds were coming from the mainland, and there is no safe harbor on the mainland-facing side of Catalina.
If we pulled our anchor, it would have meant going all around the island to find a safe harbor—in the midst of high waves and strong winds. We decided to pray and keep careful watch during the night to see if we had set our anchor well. If it hadn’t held, we would have been blown on shore. It was a terrifying experience, especially since we had three young sons with us.
Anchoring mistakes in boating are dangerous to our physical lives. Not being anchored to our loving God is dangerous to our spiritual lives.
When daylight finally broke we realized we were safe, but a boat next to us had lost its anchor hold and was on the shore near rocks. I can’t say we didn’t have a fearful night, but thankfully our anchor was set, and it held.
I have found that anchoring a boat is a lot like anchoring our lives. Anchors are important as we face the many storms that come our way in life. The storms that come crashing in can batter us financially, physically and mentally. Do we have our anchor set? Are we ready for the storms of life?
A steadfast anchor of hope
The purpose of the anchor is to hold your position wherever you are, regardless of the situation. It is a means of support, security and stability. Hebrews 6:19 Hebrews 6:19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil;
American King James Version×illustrates hope’s immovability using the symbol of an anchor. Like an anchor holding a ship securely, our hope in Christ guarantees our safety. Whatever the conditions at sea, the anchor is to remain fixed on the bottom of the seabed. And of course, the rougher the weather, the more important is the steadfastness of the anchor for the safety of the boat. It is a beautiful symbol of Christian hope.
In the boating world there are different types of anchors for different conditions and sizes of boats. For us, there is only one anchor—God, our Rock.
On a boat, the anchoring equipment consists of the anchor, chain and line. Anchoring your boat securely is one of the most basic skills necessary in boat handling. Once you learn to set an anchor correctly, with control and confidence, you can sleep easier. Anchoring poorly endangers not only your boat, but also the other boats anchored nearby.
Isn’t this the same with life? An interesting thing about the anchor is that it is there, ready to be used; but if it is not attached to a chain and line and then connected to the boat, it cannot do its job of giving support, security and stability.
Six ways to stay firmly attached
So what is the purpose of the chain? A chain should be a minimum of 6 feet long and, of course, for a large ship it should be much longer. Why a chain? It is more durable than a rope and it prevents the anchor line from rubbing against rocks or debris and being cut loose. It also helps the anchor stay in the proper position on the ocean floor, so it will hold to its maximum.
What of the chain that attaches us to our spiritual anchor? Because an anchor chain is a minimum of 6 feet long, I will give six ways we personally can stay firmly attached to the anchor. These include prayer, fasting, meditation, Bible study, congregational fellowship and faith.
1. The first link in the chain is prayer.
We all know we are to pray on a daily basis. Prayer is the wonderful opportunity to talk to our Creator God. Think of prayer as a muscle; the more you pray, the stronger it gets.
I like what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1 1 Timothy 2:1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
American King James Version×. We are urged to make requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for everyone! He even goes on to mention kings and those in authority.
And who was in authority at that time? The notorious emperor Nero. So besides our family, friends, congregations and those on so many prayer lists, we must remember the leaders of the nations.
2. The second link is fasting.
The main purpose for fasting is to draw near to God. It is certainly very difficult, but it is a tool that should be used more often than just on the Day of Atonement. Fasting pleases God as it shows how sincere we are in seeking Him. Besides drawing closer to God in order to gain His mind and perspective, we should fast when we need to make changes in our lives.
Those times may include when we are in a heavy storm of trials or when we want to ask God to intervene in someone else’s life who may be struggling with a problem or who is seriously ill. What a blessing it is when you have friends or family who love you so much they are willing to fast for you—and you for them!
3. The third link is meditation.
In our very busy lives, we should take the time to meditate. Meditation is thinking seriously and carefully on a particular topic. It is a time of reflecting. It can help us to comprehend something important or to focus on an area of need.
I like what Psalms 119:148 Psalms 119:148My eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in your word.
American King James Version×says, “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises” (New International Version). This verse reminds me of the watches sailors set when they are on the sea at night. God’s promises are our sure anchor.
4. The fourth link is Bible study.
Why wouldn’t we want to spend time each day in Bible study? It is the Word of God and the best instruction book available. There are many different programs available to read through the Bible each year. That is good to do, but it is also important to conduct additional studies on topics of interest or need. God gives us true understanding as we pray and study. Often, as we read the Word of God, He shows us where we need to make changes in our lives, and He gives us wisdom to deal with the trials we face. We must be ready to listen!
5. The fifth link is congregational fellowship.
Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×stresses that we should stir up love and good works among one another. How can that occur unless we are fellowshipping together? God realizes that it is difficult to survive spiritually on our own. We need the support of one another, and this occurs through Christian fellowship. The Church is the Body of Christ. Recognize and appreciate the brethren for what they can contribute, and think how you can contribute to the overall growth and strength of the body.
6. The sixth and last link of the chain is faith.
Faith is the belief we have in God, as well as the assurance that we can approach God. When we have faith, we know that God will be with us through all of the storms in life. He lets us know that He is near us, especially when our circumstances are difficult, our prayers are urgent and our needs are great.
So often we meditate or think about our problems with fear (or, of course, worry). However, we are told over and over in the Bible to “fear not.” This means we must replace our fear with faith, which will bring us peace. The Lord our God is with us and will give us the courage to go on. His help is always there, and is given freely to those who are anchored to Him and who seek Him.
The next part of the anchor is the line. This is the actual rope that is attached to the chain and then to the boat. In boating you let out enough line so there is some freedom between the boat and the anchor. You don’t want it to be too tight. You normally let out 5 to 7 feet of rope per 1 foot of depth of water, but this also depends on the weather, the seas and where you are located.
In our spiritual lives, I see the line as the continuing support we must receive so that no matter what storm we face, we are holding fast. It is the support we give and the support we receive, keeping us from being cut loose and drifting away from our anchor. This support comes from our family, our friends, our pastor, his wife and our neighbors.
One time while boating on Lake Mead, we were in a narrow cove with an extremely rocky bottom and could not set our anchor. After many tries, we finally dropped the anchor the best we could and attached two lines to our boat. We took those lines in our dinghy to the left and right sides of the cove, and tied the lines to rocks. At last we were secure and not drifting into the shore of the rocky cove. We considered them extra lifelines. That is what each of us should be to one another.
We all should feel confident that we can call on someone as our lifeline to help support us when the trials are so heavy we are having difficulty staying connected to our anchor. This falls in line with Galatians 6:2 Galatians 6:2Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
American King James Version×, which tells us to bear one another’s burdens.
Whether we are a child, parent, spouse, friend, pastor’s wife, neighbor or coworker, we should always be ready to notice when someone is drifting or bent under a great burden. We should be willing to step alongside the person and help him or her carry the burden, as well as help the person stay secured to the anchor. All of us must be a good friend and a good neighbor. We must love our neighbor as ourselves, and that certainly means we should be a willing lifeline to one who calls for our support. Likewise, we should never feel that we need to face our problems alone. Call on someone you can trust who is willing to pray or even fast with you to help you remain anchored.
I mentioned that the anchor lines are never taut—usually the boat is swinging freely so it does not tug excessively on the anchor. This is how it is with us: God gives us a degree of freedom, and we do likewise with our children. He gives us freedom to make choices and decisions. Do we always make the right choices? Perhaps not, but we can always make corrections and seek help so we do not become separated from the anchor.
Anchoring can also be seen as making sure the boat is secure before you leave. We have often seen people leave their boats without making sure their anchor was properly set. This may cause damage to their boat or to the boats of others. You must take a bearing of where your boat is in relation to the shore as well as other boats, making sure it does not change, before you leave your boat. Waves and/or wind might drag your anchor or possibly move your boat toward another boat or the shore.
In much the same fashion, there are spiritual bearings to take. How are we doing with our prayer, Bible study, meditation, fasting, fellowship and faith? We must take our personal bearings often.
Facing the fog
One afternoon, while returning from Catalina in our cabin cruiser, my husband and I came into a fog bank so thick we could not see 6 feet in front of us. The GPS showed we were about a mile from the Long Beach breakwater, but our radar showed many images in front and to the sides of us. Immediately we stopped the engine and set our anchor.
How thankful we were for that decision! When the fog lifted, we saw we were surrounded by huge container ships anchored due to a strike on the docks.
Sometimes our trials are so heavy we feel we are lost in a fog. But it is during these times we must be anchored securely to our great and loving Father.
Anchoring mistakes in boating are dangerous to our physical lives. Not being anchored to our loving God is dangerous to our spiritual lives. As the storms of life toss us around, our anchor must be solid. It will give us an inner strength that will remain firm regardless of the trials we may face.
Remember to check your spiritual anchor—the anchor itself, the chain and the line. Do you have all the elements in place to keep you attached to the most important anchor of all? If not, set your anchor!