(I wrote this about 5 years ago. I’m happy to report that the friend who was fighting for her life then is rocking life now– with a new perspective that could teach us all a thing or two about what really matters.)
“We have this hope [the hope of Jesus, our ‘city of refuge’] as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” ~Hebrews 6:19-20
Growing up in church, I heard a lot of Bible stories, and the ones I loved most were the dramatic ones. The ones where God showed up and left no question about who was in charge. You know, Elijah calling down fire from heaven, Joshua leading God’s people around Jericho and watching the walls crumble. I can just imagine the disciples debating about whether or not to wake Jesus as rain pours into their boat and waves toss them far off-course. “Jesus, don’t you care about us? We’re all going to die!” And with a simple command from the Master, the wind dies down and the water grows calm again. I love it… not just for the drama, but because it shows Jesus’ power to deliver His people from a storm that they are certain will overpower them.
I don’t know about you, but this has been a challenging year for me. Even before the talk of recession, many of those that I love lost something dear to them… their good health, a loved one, a dream held close to their heart. I find myself in the middle of a lot of grief and tragedy. The sky is ominously dark and the water is looking pretty choppy.
As I listen to the disciples’ words, “Jesus, don’t you care about us?” I hear them echoed in my own prayers. Why is my friend lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life while her babies grow up without her? Why is a good man’s life cut short when he was so dedicated to helping others? Why does a beautiful, godly woman have to live her last months in pain, watching her body and mind deteriorate from the ravages of disease and the medicine intended to kill it? Jesus, don’t you care about us? I want You to show Yourself as the one who speaks a word and calms the raging storm!
There’s nothing dramatic about an anchor, but as I read through Hebrews, this image resonates deeply with me. Why? As strange as it may seem, it describes perfectly how I am experiencing God right now. In the midst of the grief and tragedy, in the middle of the storm, I have hope as my anchor. Not wishful thinking or naivety, not denial or a glib proclamation that ‘everything will be ok.’ This hope is something deeper, something harder to define.
What does an anchor do? It doesn’t calm the storm. It just keeps the boat from drifting too far. The reality of the difficult situation remains. My life, and the lives of those I love, are not immune from tragedy. The grief is real, the emotions are real, the questions are real. And in the middle of it all, I am absolutely convinced that I won’t drift too far. I am confident that my God is big enough to handle all of the questions and the whirlwind of emotions that make my mind spin. I am secure in a faith that keeps me grounded and settled, a belief in One who makes sure that I won’t drift (or get tossed) too far.
I don’t know why Jesus doesn’t always choose to calm the storms in our tumultuous lives. But I think maybe it is because He wants us to experience Him not just as the One with the power to deliver us from the storm, but as the One with the compassion to walk with us through the storm as well.
So, when dark clouds loom on the horizon and waves start crashing, know that it’s ok to feel, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to question, and it’s ok to hope. This hope, this refuge, this anchor ushers us into the inner sanctuary, into the very presence of a holy and compassionate God. It shows Jesus’ power to walk alongside His people through a storm that, alone, would certainly overpower us. And, ultimately, it leaves no question about who is in charge.