COLUMN: Hope is the anchor of the soul

Published 7:30 am Sunday, June 23, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Meeting different kinds of people makes life interesting. While attending a weekend Christian retreat some time ago, I overheard a man talking about his experiences at sea.

The man looked like a weathered sailor with his white hair combed straight back, forming a curly wave.  His short, white beard put his chin on even keel with the top of his head. Turned out, this older fellow with muscular arms worked as a shrimper in Bayou LaBatre.

Ironically, the theme for the retreat was “The Anchor Holds.” Seeing a picture of an anchor hanging on the wall, I noticed something unique that I’d never seen before.

In between the ring where the rope is secured and the base where a pair of hooks bend upward was the shape of a cross. So I took advantage of the opportunity to ask an expert with firsthand experience about it.

The shrimper told me the pointed hooks at the base of the anchor are called flukes and the shorter perpendicular bar near the top is known as the crossbar. I also found out the curved end of the anchor is the crown.

He explained that when the anchor is dropped into the water, the crossbar balances the anchor, so it doesn’t tip from one side to the other.

Without the crossbar, the anchor would likely be unsteady because one of the flukes might not grab hold of the ocean bottom. The sailor’s explanation made me see a spiritual application in the anchor. It’s in the cross we find the balance we need for our daily lives, especially when the storms of life threaten to sink us.

Where would we be without the hope of our salvation? The writer of Hebrews describes our hope as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” set before us if we will grasp it and hold on to it (6:19).

Vaclav Havel, a playwright, poet and political dissident, became the president of Czechoslovakia after the fall of communism. He said, “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

There’s a Scottish Proverb that says, “Were it not for hope the heart would break.” Someone once wrote, “Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” Thomas Brooks put it this way, “Hope can see heaven through the thickest clouds.”

Talking to that mariner reminded me of the words of a song that echoes the scripture about our hope, “The anchor holds, though the ship is battered. The anchor holds, in spite of the storm. I have fallen on my knees, when I face the raging sea. The anchor holds, in spite of the storm.” In the words of Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, “In order to realize the worth of an anchor we need to feel the stress of the storm.”

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”