My Anchor Holds
Waves crashed against the steel hull. Winds whipped around as the frame of the ship lurched back and forth. A rusty chain stretched from the aft side of the vessel and disappeared below the foaming waters. Yet as the rain pelted through the treacherous night—the anchor held.
Can you picture the ship? Maybe you don’t need to imagine it. Maybe you’re living it. You wake up in the morning to salt spray in your face. The beating of the waves of difficulty feels merciless. Another day of physical pain, waiting, loneliness, or loss. Another day of storms where you wonder if your anchor will hold. Can you hold on to truth—to the goodness of the Lord in your suffering?
Or perhaps you’re sailing on the open seas, but the memory of the storm stands close at hand. While peace surrounds you, the pain of the past isn’t forgotten, neither is the fear of what storms may be on the horizon.
As I think about the ship tossing in the waves, familiar music rings in my ear:
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
You might have sung the tune at church on Sunday. The hymn was penned by Edward Mote, and originally titled, “The Immutable Basis for a Sinner’s Hope.” The words inspire us. How desperately we want to be that ship, held fast by the anchor in the storm of suffering. Yet how do we do it?
Whether intended or not, Edward’s analogy holds greater meaning when we know a little more about how anchors actually work. We often imagine an incredibly heavy anchor that secures the ship in place, but this isn’t always the case. On a large ship, the boat is not held by the actual anchor, but instead by the immense weight of the chain attached to it. When a ship puts out anchor, it slowly reels out the anchor followed by thousands of feet of heavy chain down into the water. Each link in the chain adds weight and security, until the final chain—called “the bitter end”—is left holding the entire piece securely to the boat.
Our own anchor holds in the same way. The links on our chain aren’t forged of iron, but different materials. They are the words of the Psalm 16, 23, 40, and dozens more that pass our lips in heartache. They are the encouragements of Paul that remind us our suffering is momentary and that nothing will keep the love of the Father from his children. They are the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Judah, Rahab, and Naomi, who went from emptiness to fullness, death to life because of their God. Our chains are the history of an unfaithful nation, who year after year were never abandoned by Yahweh.
Each of these link grips to the other, and holds us fast amidst the rough waters. The Lord steadies us through the pages of Scripture that shout out who he is and all he’s done throughout history. Yet he doesn’t stop there.
Another group of links are the saints who have gone before us. Their stories don’t fill the pages of the Bible, but their weighty words of hope in the midst of suffering pull down upon our anchor. They are church fathers and mothers, well-known pastors, and unknown saints. Familiar faces appear in other links of chain: friends whose prayers, visits, texts, and simple presence hammer the metal stronger. If we glance a little closer, we might even see our own history in those chains that hold us taut. We see the storms of our past, and are reminded of the faithfulness of the Lord in the midst of them.
Each of these links connects, one after the other. They steady us in the storm, and center us around truth. God is good. He will hold me. He is faithful, each link reminds us. And so they intertwine, until we get to the final one: “the bitter end” as they say. And we see this chain is none other than Christ himself. He holds us tight. He is the one who has forged each link to begin with, after all. It’s his hand that grips us close to him. And it’s his work on our behalf that is the “steadfast anchor of our soul” (Heb. 6:13-20).
Whether you currently feel tossed by the storms of life, or you are merely fearing the clouds on the horizon, remember what holds you. Your anchor is tethered to a mighty chain, reminding you of your God. Think of the links Christ has forged for you. Remember the people he placed in your life, the Scripture he’s brought before your eyes, and your own testimony of his faithfulness. Then remember “the bitter end”—your Savior who grips it all tightly while holding on to you.
How does your anchor hold? Because your precious Christ secures you. He holds you firmly, through a hundred different ways.
Join My Newsletter!
Each month I send out a newsletter that highlights some of the small graces I’ve been drinking from that month. They might be music we've been listening to in our home, a story of God's kindness, or a new-favorite recipe.
When you sign up, you'll also receive a free download of a collection of writings about the way God uses memorials in our lives. I hope you'll join!