I recently read a story about two great ships in the 1800’s. There was a severe storm brewing in the Atlantic, so the captains of the ships went to the same harbor to anchor in safely and ride out the storm. The storm raged through the night. When dawn had broken, one of the ships was destroyed on the rocky coast. In their hurriedness, preparing for the storm, the crew had not anchored properly and they lost their lives. The other ship had anchored securely and was safe.
This story made me think of our world today and how people anchor themselves to things, both tangible and intangible. Many people see no harm in looking for a common ground with others, even if that common ground involves sin, such as covetousness or lust. The expression, “Keeping up with the Jones’,” comes to mind. In a more extreme example, people are using alcohol, drugs, sex, money, gambling, among other ills, to “anchor” through this life. In both cases, people are anchoring to false hope and both are sin.
When put to the test, these anchors come up lacking when life becomes difficult. Both, ultimately, lead to emptiness and despair. Yet, people will defiantly claim they do not need or even believe in God. Psalm 14:1 says: …The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt; they have committed abominable deeds…
“There are no atheists in foxholes” is a saying that was popularized during World War II. Perhaps it came about in April 1942, as the United States, under heavy bombardment, lost Bataan to Japanese forces. The reason there are no atheists in foxholes is simple. When you arrive at death’s door sooner than expected, your life becomes clearer. All false behavior, deceit, and pride seeps out of you and you are raw. Real trials, which have you fearing for your very life, cause you to reevaluate who you are, what you have done, and where you are going when this life is over.
As we see in scripture Jesus Christ is solid ground… He is our Rock. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Why should we wait for the unexpected storm to anchor ourselves securely? Death often comes unexpected and then we will stand before a Holy God, who is perfect and righteous. Without Jesus Christ, we will stand before Him sinners who broke His Holy Standard, His Commandments. In our rebellion, we sought life’s pleasures, anchoring ourselves to possessions or acts that, at the end of this life, do not matter. We are in a dilemma, but there is an answer to our problem.
God, knowing that we fall short and are sinners, loves us tremendously (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, John 3:16). He loves us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins… and then on the third day He arose to show that He is our Savior, our God. This “giftable” action is the ultimate sacrifice, and our bridge to salvation, but there is a step we must take to receive it. We must humble ourselves and repent of our sins. The word repent simply means that you understand that you have sinned against God and that you turn away from the way you are living and turn toward (commit to) the One who loves you.
You can refuse God and continue to anchor to your own ways (sin). Romans 6:23 makes it very clear that sin leads to death – an eternal separation from God, in Hell. Hell is an unpleasant word, but a very real place. Jesus talks more about Hell than He does Heaven in the New Testament. This should be a very real indicator that our predicament is serious and we should be careful in how we move forward.
It is because God is merciful that we have this amazing opportunity. We have clearly sinned and not lived according to His righteous standard. Even so, God has provided unmerited divine assistance: His grace. Think of where you stand before our Holy God. As we all know, deep within ourselves, we cannot be perfect. We know that we have a God and we have not met His Holy Standard. He has pursued you with an everlasting love and is ready and waiting for you to repent and turn toward Him.
Just as the captain safely secured his ship in the harbor, humble yourself and seek the One who can secure your eternal salvation.
Stephen John Spivey