Your Soul’s Anchor

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For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 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 6:13-20 ESV

We are living in unsettling times. I’m sure each era and generation can say something to this effect, but every day we are faced with unsettling news — locally, nationally, and internationally. As followers of Jesus it our duty to pray for the preservation of life in Iraq, to pray for our own country and its racial tensions, to pray for those who are involved in tragedies. In our time it becomes incredibly obvious that we need a stabilizing force in our mind, will, and emotions. So my question is simple:

Does your soul have an anchor?

Are you a boat person? Someone recently asked me, “Judah, are you nautical?” My first reaction was to say, “Yeah, I had some of their clothes in the ’80s and ’90s. Do you remember their vests and keychains?” But that was obviously not the kind of Nautical this person meant. “No!” they said. “Are you nautical? Are you good with boats?”

“Absolutely not!” I said. “Why would you ask that question?”

“Because you’re from Seattle.”

This person obviously didn’t know me well because I’m not good with a lot of things.
There is one nautical story worth mentioning. Two summers ago, my friends and I decided we wanted to sail the ocean blue. Who knows where this desire came from, but we found a woman who was selling a boat. When we got there, I looked at what turned out to be a rowboat and asked, “Where are the rowers?”

“Do you mean oars?” asked the woman. “Not included.”

We talked her down to around $50 dollars for the boat without “rowers,” then decided to find a motor for it. Mind you, this was a rowboat — not a motorboat. Next we found a vintage motor, barely used, for another fifty bucks. No matter that the boat was not equipped for a motor… We were going to make it work.

What I’m about to share with you is the terrifying true story of our boat’s maiden voyage. Everyone hopped into our rowboat, and we turned on our little motor. Barges started rolling in, sending waves crashing over and into our boat… and before long, the top of our boat was four inches above the water. I was thinking, Dear God, we are four inches from tragedy. We are four inches from re-enacting the story of Jonah. Can everyone here swim? For nearly four hours, we weaved and bobbed around in that little boat, bailing out water with our drink cups.

Have you ever felt four inches away from giving up? Four inches away from being emotionally, mentally, even spiritually submerged? Four inches from calamity, from saying, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s too much”? Sure, we all feel exhausted by the negative, painful things in life — but what about the good things that happen to us too? Have your passions, dreams, or successes, once achieved, brought you to a place of terror? Holding onto something good can be just as tiring as dealing with our troubles or hurts. Feeling desperate is part of life, of living on this fragmented and broken planet.

Maybe today you are experiencing the human condition of wondering if the next thing to come your way will sink you. As I said, we are living in such an unsettled, uncertain time — when information can overload us, weigh us down, sink our ship. The news is discouraging and disappointing, full of injustice, bigotry, and loss, that even a buoyant soul can panic that they’re four inches from disaster.

When you feel that way, what do you do? The Scripture from Hebrews 6 reminds me that my soul needs an anchor.

How do you anchor your soul?

The Bible defines the word soul in so many ways, but I think of it simply as “the inside you.” Oftentimes the Old Testament uses the word heart. If you are like me, your mind, will, and emotions tend to drift like a boat on the sea — but an anchor can hold you steadfast, prevent you from drifting. It keeps you from tipping and ultimately sinking. You tether yourself to an anchor for stability and security, and though the elements may be against you, the anchor can save your ship.

The writer of Hebrews is addressing Jewish believers who are four inches away from giving up. The cost of discipleship has been high, and the writer urgently encourages the believers to hold steadfastly to their anchor. He harks all the way back to Abraham and the priesthood, reminding them that Jesus is the ultimate Priest. In the face of trouble, they need a reminder of who their Source of stability truly is.

The question “Does my soul have an anchor?” may have a deceptively simple answer. “Jesus, of course,” we may say. But if we are honest, we have all sorts of answers to this question. Some people feel secure in the strength of their finances. Maybe they derive strength from a prominent social position or a beloved job. Or maybe they hold fast to another individual or their families. Whatever the case, though all of those things can be good in their own right, they are all susceptible to the storms of life.

We need somebody with a soul that transcends the plight of human existence, yet who understands that plight and can rescue us from it. That’s why Jesus is the only reliable Anchor for my soul.

This doesn’t mean we won’t get discouraged. The thing about an anchor is that it does its best work when it isn’t seen. It plunges through the depths, hits the ocean floor, and fastens itself there. Meanwhile, back on the surface, you may still be confronting those dangerous elements and thinking, “This is rough! And I cannot see my anchor!”

Be comforted in the fact that Jesus, your Anchor, is set. His work is finished. His love is for you and toward you. He is present and near, and He will care for you in this life and the one to come.

With Jesus as our anchor, my prayer for you is that you would meet Jesus in the midst of your storm and allow Him to anchor you and see you to the other side.

Watch the How’s Your Soul? Interview with Ben Malcomson of the Seattle Seahawks

Exclusive article by Judah Smith for Devotionals Daily, copyright Judah Smith.

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Judah Smith

Judah Smith and his wife, Chelsea, are the lead pastors of The City Church in Seattle, Washington. Judah is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jesus Is ____. Judah and his wife were youth ministry pastors for ten years-- ranked as one of the top five "most dynamic" youth groups in the country by Ministry Today-- before stepping into their new role in 2009. Judah is in high demand as speaker, both in the U.S. and abroad. He and Chelsea have three children: Zion, Eliott, and Grace.

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