Adrift, aimless, without compass or chart,
No balm for the soul, no hope in the heart.
Christ alone guarantees us safe haven,
His Father, alone, has on his hands graven
Our names – a steadfast, firm, secure,
Redemptive love bringing us safe ashore.
The nature of Jesus is so rich that we have to use many names and ideas to express his fullness. One powerful metaphor is the “anchor”.
In this life, we will experience many wonderful things. Many moments of calm and beauty. But we will also face times of difficulty. This is innate in our very nature, and in the nature of the world. At times we will feel adrift. We may feel overwhelmed. We may feel that winds and currents are against us. The idea of a boat struggling against high seas, at risk of foundering, struggling for a safe haven, is therefore a powerful metaphor with which we can identify.
An anchor is a device which keeps a boat secure and stops it going adrift when faced with storms and strong currents. In the Bible, an anchor is used to represent God and faith.
We see, dramatically, how anchors were used by the crew when Paul was on his final journey to Rome, off the shore of Malta: “Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak” (Acts 27:29). On that occasion, the physical anchors were insufficient to prevent the ship being lost. In life, we need a “spiritual anchor” to help keep us grounded; something which is steadfast and sure, to give us constancy and assurance when faced with challenges.
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus not to be “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). He spoke of the church at Colosse having “stability of faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5).
So, we are promised that Jesus is both our hope and the anchor of our soul, both sure and steadfast: we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf... (Hebrews 6:19-20). In the words of Priscilla Jane Owens’ famous hymn Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll”.
(Anchor appears on my New Testament: The Early Church page).