Life is an ocean.
It’s vast, intimidating, and filled with things we don’t fully understand. Storms can come out of nowhere and wreak havoc on our tiny little boats, subtle currents can pull us this way and that, and unforgiving waves can leave us disoriented and reeling. Paul talked about being “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14), but the reality is that we can be overwhelmed by so much more than the winds of doctrine. There are emergencies. Responsibilities. The cares of this world. A million and one different things that can hijack our attention and our time, leaving us feeling adrift and hopeless on the ocean of life.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
(Hebrews 6:17-20, ESV)
The hope, the unchanging promises of our Father in heaven, is the anchor for our souls. Whether life is raging in a vicious storm or just tugging at us with subtle undercurrents that we can barely sense, our God-given hope is the anchor that holds us in place—steady, unchanging. And as long as we have that anchor in place, as long as we stay connected to that hope, we’re going to stay right where we need to be staying in that great big ocean. Focused on what matters.
These past few months—well, this past year, if I’m being honest—has been crazy. We’re preparing for our baby girl to arrive at the end of August. We’ve been making major improvements on our new house. We’ve hosted visiting family members a couple times and flown back to Massachusetts for my grandmother’s funeral. We hosted the Night to Be for the first time ever (!) and then flew back to visit family in Virginia. It seems like something major is right around every corner, and it’s been equal parts exciting and exhausting.
But if I’m being honest, I’ve felt adrift for quite a lot of that time, too. Just… floating. Knocked around by waves, pushed and pulled by currents. And if I’m being painfully honest, I know why, too.
My anchor is up. That’s always the issue—whenever I get the feeling that I’m lost at sea, it’s inevitably because at some point, I raised my anchor. I stopped letting my hope be my focus. I started letting other things become the stars of the show, and the more that happens, the more listless and unsettled I get.
Why is that when things get hectic, the easiest things to let go of are the most important? Prayer, Bible study, meditation—when time is at a premium, they’re always the first things out the window. It’s hard to squeeze them in. We forget. We’ll “get to them later.” But those components are part of our anchor—and without them, we’re going to drift.
The storms, the waves, the currents—those are all coming whether we’re prepared for them or not. The irony of it all is that we need our anchor the most during the times when it’s hardest to prioritize it—but if we want to survive everything the ocean has to throw at us, it’s vital that we make the effort.
Paul told Timothy:
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
(1 Timothy 4:13-16)
There were a lot of things in Ephesus that could have eaten up Timothy’s attention—”fables and endless genealogies,” for example, “which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). There were also the “profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).
Distractions. Time-suckers. Arguments Timothy could easily have sunk hours into while slowly losing sight of the bigger picture. Paul told him to avoid those things, and to zero in on what mattered—Timothy needed to have his anchor down if he was going to face the challenges ahead of him.
So do we. Just because we’re not pastoring a congregation in the first century doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from Paul’s advice. Two thousand years later, the problem and solution are still the same. When distractions creep in—when Satan fills our lives with urgent fires we can’t seem to keep up with—when we find ourselves being pushed and pulled in all directions by the invisible currents of life—when we wake up and discover ourselves adrift on the ocean of life—there’s only one thing to do:
Let down the anchor of our souls. Hold fast to the hope set before us by God. Your adversary’s goal is to drag you away from the unchanging promises of God, but he can’t do that if we cling to those promises first and foremost. Even when it’s hard. Even when it feels impossible—because the truth is, what God has secured, Satan can’t budge.