“Being Anchored In Good and Bad Times”
Recently I had the opportunity to spend a week sailing through the crystal clear waters surrounding the Virgin Islands. And it wasn’t just sailing but living on the sailboat all week. Many would consider this a wonderfully, stress free way to spend a few days, but I assure you sailing comes with many moments of stress and anxiety. And I’d like to share with you one moment that can be stressful if you don’t handle it properly. That moment is the moment you find yourself needing to be anchored while other activities or a good night’s sleep are being pursued. Imagine being on a boat and knowing you don’t want to end up grounded on shore or worse. The setting of the anchor that will hold you is essential to your safety. Even using a pre-set mooring buoy relies upon having the skill to secure yourself to it and the faith to trust it through the night.
The recent events that occurred at Emanuel AME Church located in downtown Charleston are the kinds of events that can send persons and belief systems crashing into the rocks of life if they are not anchored to an immovable object. Anytime violence attacks innocence there will be those who ask questions that have no answers, and if they have no anchors in life, they go adrift. Anytime something evil happens that we believe ought not happen, we ask God “why” or “how,” and if our faith isn’t deeply anchored in the presence of God, people can drift off thinking God doesn’t care or that God isn’t present. I am convinced that the way people handle both good and bad events happening in their lives is directly related to that to which they are anchored. For some it is family values. For others it is tradition. For some it is simply their genetic character to be positive or negative. But for Christians, our anchor is our belief in a loving God and the gift of a Savior. And our anchor tells us that no matter what we confront, God is present with us in the midst of our storm as well as in the midst of the calm. It is not the event that determines God’s presence; it is the faith of the person who calls upon God to be present in our everyday world as well as a world spinning out of control.
St. Paul writing to the church at Rome says “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39). In these verses God’s love is reaffirmed even in the face of all present adversities. Paul is speaking about being anchored to an immoveable and unchangeable God who is present with His people always. God does not and is not bringing evil and hardship; rather God is always present to help us deal with our hardships and survive them. Paul is anchored to God through Christ. And so are the Christian Church and Christians.
You and I have been privileged to see what being anchored can look like. We are living through a horrible event that is causing us to check and double-check how anchored and secure we are to the rock of our faith, Jesus Christ. Please remember that we are children of an all powerful and compassionate God. He is present with us during this moment in our history. He will remain with us and our community and Emanuel Church throughout this time of being wounded and then healed. And He will be our anchor through Christ our Lord forever. Remember there is nothing that will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are anchored, … trust God to be present.
Pastor Butler +