Wednesday, May 7, 2008

An Anchor

As a teenage girl, I experientially learned a painful, but profound truth. Life can change in a moment.


When my only sibling, my fifteen year old younger brother, died suddenly and unexpectedly three days before Christmas, I was thrown into a world with a depth of pain I had not imagined possible.

Except for the loss of a dearly loved uncle, my childhood had been relatively pain free. When this tragedy came blaring into our lives, seemingly out of nowhere, it felt to me like one must feel when suddenly overtaken on a quiet dark road by a speeding semi-truck. You are suddenly flattened, left without air in your lungs, terrified, stunned and generally lost.

Obviously, I was not the only one affected by these events. My parents were attending a Sunday School class party when the news came that turned their world upside down. Our extended family changed their plans from Christmas dinners to receiving food from grieving friends wanting to give us comfort. For my aunt and her family, Christmas dinner became hot dogs in the Atlanta airport as they traveled home from the funeral. Both my brother’s junior high and my high school had to cancel some semester exams the next day when students became too distraught to test after hearing the news and looking at their classmate’s empty seat. My pastor, a strong and godly man, spoke words of comfort at my brother’s funeral, but only after privately confessing his feelings of total inadequacy in light of such stark tragedy.

All in a moment.

Where is the hope in this story? Where do we turn in the hour of our greatest need, our darkest pain? If we can not know from one moment to the next whether or not everything in our lives will be turned upside down, how do we get out of bed each morning? The only answer I have found is in the Bible.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

Anchors were only pictures in a book to me until Rob was assigned to a ship as the assistant supply officer. Watching the large ships of the United States naval fleet as a young bride, I was amazed at the size and scope of the anchors. These mammoth shapes of metal were accompanied by large, long chains which allowed them to drop to the bottom of the ocean floor. When the chains began to creak as they dropped, you knew the ship they were tied to was going nowhere. The ship would remain steady no matter how the sea rolled against it.

The book of Hebrews gives me words which I can use as a secure anchor for my soul as the seas roll in my life. These words give me a place to find hope. Chapter 2 tells me that Jesus tasted death for me and is not ashamed to call me brother. It says that He shared in my humanity so He could destroy the one “who holds the power of death – that is the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14b – NIV) In chapter 6, we who are in relationship with Jesus through His death on the cross are called heirs. We are called those “who have fled to take hold of the hope offered.” (Hebrews 6:18 – NIV) What is that hope? That we are part of God’s family. Forgiven. Heirs. Brothers and Sisters.

The reality I learned as a teenager is that I truly have no clue what the next twenty four hours hold for me or for those I love. I can dream, plan, anticipate, but I will never be able to anchor my life to anything in the future. Life can change in a moment.

The only anchor for my soul, the only secure resting place is with the hope I have in Jesus Christ. He has secured my spot in the family. My long term destiny is clear, though what happens in this life may be foggy. Thankfully, very few days in my life have been like that life changing December day in my teens. So many days have been happy and calm. My hope is not in future days of calm though, my hope is in God. He is my firm anchor of delivery for whatever happens . . . . . . in a moment.