If you’ve ever been in the open waters of the ocean, you understand firsthand the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves. I have been deep sea fishing two times—both when I was a child. The first time, smooth sailing. The second time, not so much.
On that second fishing trip, I remember us launching out from shore, and after several minutes, all I could see was blue liquid in every direction. No shoreline. Nothing that represented stability and permanence. I must admit, I got a little nervous.
As our relatively small boat continued to power out to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, I started feeling a bit queasy. Giant waves cradled us in their valley before launching us to their crest. Then back down again. Back up. Back down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Over and over. Would we ever get there, I wondered. Did someone convince our captain to just keep going past the Gulf all the way to the Caribbean?!
As we tumbled over every wave, I started getting more and more seasick. It felt like I was stuck in the endless loop of one of those loopty-loop roller coasters. I was woozy and wobbly, and I was very nauseated. My dad must’ve recognized the green tint of my face. “Just lean over the edge if you have to,” he said matter-of-factly.
I had to.
As I buckled over the railing, I was a little worried about the side of the boat. But then one of those giant swells rose up to meet the evidence of my seasickness and wash it away.
I remember spending much of the rest of our time at sea lying down in an outdoor shaded area on the upper deck of the boat while nibbling on, of all things, a giant concession stand pickle wrapped in wax paper. Someone said the pickle would help calm my stomach. Now, I think it was just meant as a distraction.
In some ways, 2020 feels like being stuck out on the open waters of a mighty sea. So many ups and downs. So much anxiety and uncertainty. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it all just makes me feel a bit dizzy and nauseated. I find myself longing for the stability and permanence of the familiar. I am ready to get out of the boat and stand on solid ground.
God always knows what His people need. During the first century, followers of Jesus faced intense pressure. They were getting thrown around by cultural waves, tossed back and forth by false teaching and victimized by violent persecution. They needed something reliable, something dependable, something firm and secure on which to stand.
God gave them hope.
The inspired writer of Hebrews reminded them—and us—that the hope we have in Christ is “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). Hope tethers us to the promises of God. Hope sustains us through the ups and downs of life. Hope inspires us with the vision of a future reality that far exceeds our present reality.
Hope is our anchor amid the raging waters of the world.
Noted author, Henri Nouwen, once wrote, “Hope prevents us from clinging to what we have and frees us to move away from the safe place and enter unknown and fearful territory.”
He is right. With our hope firmly anchored in the promises of God that were revealed and fulfilled in Jesus, we can venture into the open waters of the unknown with confidence and assurance. We can let go of our fear, release our anxiety, and cast off our bitterness and frustration. Our hope is not in the things of this world. Our hope is in something much bigger, much better—something firm and secure.
We are starting a new sermon series called “Hope as an Anchor.” If there is something we all need to hear during these uncertain times, it is a word of hope. I am praying that you will be able to join us either in-person or online for worship this Sunday.
Also, I’m sure you know someone who could benefit from a message of hope right now. Would you make the effort to invite them to worship with us Sunday? Ask them to join you or send them the link to our online service. I look forward to opening up God’s word with you Sunday to find a much-needed word of hope.
Now, for some reason, I’m craving pickles.