As the year wound down last week, I was talking with someone about the ministry and sufferings of the Apostle Paul. My Quiet Time Schedule for the year included the closing pages of Acts and the shipwreck off Malta. Our discussions reminded me of an experience I had on the North Sea while participating in a foreign studies program in Denmark.
As part of our orientation, our group of American students from all over the USA was taken to see the town of Helsingborg and Kronborg Castle (the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet). Returning on the ferry to Denmark from Sweden, we were presented with a marvelous Smorgasbord, spread out on several tables that almost spread through width of the room. Unfortunately, our ferry hit extremely stormy seas. The boat was swaying in heavy waves. Scared students kept a grip on their plates or drinking glasses. Thankfully, the tables were anchored in place. Even the crew looked nervous. Finishing my meal quickly, I was going around from table to table meeting new students and getting to know others better, swaying bow-legged in that way that sailors use to keep from tipping over in similar circumstances. I had just gotten to one side of the room and knelt down to talk with one of my new classmates. From this perch, I was able to see the whole disaster…
Suddenly, the ship tipped nearly perpendicular and everything was swept off the tables and every chair was tipped throwing screaming passengers in heaps across the room. I was braced against a table that turned out to be on the high side of the tilt. Everything fell away from me and rolled to the other side of the room.
Immediately the storm stopped. The big wave that almost tipped us must have been driven by the squall line at the edge of the storm. I ended up being the only person who was not covered in one’s dinner or drenched from the beverages on each table. I proceeded then to go through the crowd, reassuring my fellow students that the storm had passed and we were OK. I helped people to their feet and got them away from the broken glass amid the slippery food debris.
Insights from the Storm
In this world, we are living in the storm. Sometimes the waves are calmer than other times. Sometimes we feel our whole world is lifted up and tipped sideways with everything crashing around us. Like my situation above, we need to kneel and grip firmly the only thing firmly anchored in this world: the Solid Rock, Jesus. If we do this, then we will be able to minister to those who, though survivors, are shaken by the storms. Know this, we truly have been anchored to Jesus beyond the storm: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner has entered on our behalf. (Hebrews 6:19-20a) The chain of this anchor starts on our end and snakes out of time and our shaky circumstances into eternity and the throne room of heaven. That end is shackled to our Lord Jesus, secure and immovable.
I don’t know what 2017 holds for us. But I do know Who holds us. Our security is not meant to help us sleep at night (though it sure can!), but it is meant to give us a secure platform for caring for others — within our families and school and without. May you fulfill that mission with the Spirit’s ever present help!