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Christ the sure and steady anchor

Hymn Series

Posted on December 19, 2019  - By Darren Stanly

About fifteen years ago, during a summer break spent in India, my family and I packed our suitcases and set sail for an exciting two-day trip across the backwaters of Kerala on a houseboat. It was my first such experience! But what was meant to be a serene experience, filled with fun and laughter, took a frightening turn two hours into the journey, as a calm lake gave way to a choppy water body, led by strong winds and waves that were proving to be almost too much for the carrier to handle. Filled with fear, the passengers onboard huddled together on the deck, unsure of what to do. Some chose to issue suggestions and frantic commands, while others like myself preferred not to speak.

Out of fear and a limited understanding of the situation at hand, my young mind kept pulling up unwanted visions of unpleasant thoughts. I could see any hope of making it back safely to the shore gradually diminishing on the faces of many around me. But not for the experienced crew on board. They knew what had to be done in order to bring the vessel under control — drop anchor. Relief dawned on all our faces, as the hope of survival was gradually restored.

Our lives can often feel like a boat tossed by the relentless waves of trials and temptations, leaving us hopeless and frail. In the song ‘Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor’, Matt Papa and Matt Boswell employ the metaphor of wind, sea, storms and floods to illustrate the effects of trials and temptations in our lives, and point us to an anchor that we can hold on to with full assurance: Christ Jesus.

The raging sea

Christ the sure and steady anchor,

In the fury of the storm;

When the winds of doubt blow through me,

And my sails have all been torn.

In the suffering, in the sorrow,

When my sinking hopes are few;

I will hold fast to the anchor,

It will never be removed.

Storms in our lives can take different forms during different seasons of our lives. For some, it may be a certain sin they have entertained/indulged in… maybe for years. Or the loss of someone beloved. Or having to deal with rejection or abuse. For others still, it may take the form of uncertainties regarding the future, or a severe bout of depression. When these storms hit us, they can hit us hard. Papa and Boswell paint these hard realities, awakening us to the truth that these storms often render us with no hope.

The failure to meet our own set standards of righteousness and the weight of the lies that subtly creep in, claiming that our trials and temptations are far more powerful than the Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth, lend themselves to a form of pride (self-pity) that directs our attention to ourselves. We look within ourselves, hoping to find answers deep in the trenches of hopelessness. But, like the 12 disciples, we too are ignorant to the truth.

In Gethsemane, Jesus warned His disciples saying, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Leading up to the events at Gethsemane, Peter boldly uttered those infamous words, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matthew 26:35). But when Jesus was betrayed and handed over to the council, at crunch time, the disciples denied Him and fled in fear. Their spirits were willing, but their flesh indeed was weak.

At crunch time, the disciples denied Jesus and fled in fear. Their spirits were willing, but their flesh indeed was weak

If the disciples who walked with Jesus, witnessing all His mighty deeds and being first-hand hearers of His teachings, fell when tempted, what makes us think that we won’t fall? What makes us think that we are immune to unbelief?

He digs in deeper

Christ the sure and steady anchor,

While the tempest rages on;

When temptation claims the battle,

And it seems the night has won.

Deeper still then goes the anchor,

Though I justly stand accused;

I will hold fast to the anchor,

It shall never be removed.

In the midst of this raging sea of suffering, guilt and unbelief, the song reminds us that we will be left stranded in that pit of hopelessness unless we turn our faces away from that never-ending trench of ‘self’ to an anchor on the opposite end — an anchor that shall never be removed.

In verse 3, the songwriters remind us that our anchor is a Person who proved His love forever on the hill of Calvary, when He — the Son of God — was hung on a cross, betrayed and rejected, despised and murdered. The offence of men was laid on the Son of God, so that those who stood justly accused before the true Judge could yet be justified, thanks to His sacrifice on the cross.

Our anchor is a Person who proved His love forever on the hill of Calvary, when He was hung on a cross and murdered for our sakes

And no matter how hard the tempest rages, Christ, who is our anchor, is able to root in deeper. We change; our circumstances change; our emotions vary and get the better of us. But Christ does not change. He remains faithful. He who promised to keep those whom He has received from the Father is faithful to His promises (John 10:27-28; 17:20-25). The downtrodden, the rejected, the persecuted and the hopeless can all cling to this anchor in repentance, assured that He will keep His promise till the end. His grace is truly sufficient!

Beyond the uncertain

The temptations we face and the trials we endure are not the end of the story. They are but the means to something much greater: the promised glory. For those who look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen, this light momentary affliction — whatever it may look like in each of our lives — is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Christians are not left to fight the raging storms alone, but it is God who works in and through us, sustaining us till we cross that great horizon, where there will be no pain, no sorrow and no uncertainties. He who began a good work will bring it to completion on that day (Philippians 1:6), and we can rest in the fact that our endurance in faith is ultimately in the hands of God.

Therefore, we can confidently sing along with the many who have endured before us,

Clouds behind and life secure;

And the calm will be the better,

For the storms that we endure.

We will hold fast to the anchor,

It shall never be removed.

Darren Stanly

About Darren Stanly



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