About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near. They dropped a weighted line and found that the water was 120 feet deep. But a little later they measured again and found it was only 90 feet deep. At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. Acts 27:27-29 NLT
Anchors are mentioned in two contexts in the New Testament. One is in the story of a shipwreck when the Apostle Paul and other prisoners were on a ship making its way to Rome, Italy (Acts 27).
The term anchor is also used figuratively of the Christian’s confidence, having security of hope in Christ (Hebrews 6:19). This symbolizes calm, composure, steadfastness and stability. As a ship is safe when at anchor, so are we secured by the hope that binds us to Christ. The anchor is a symbol of us being grounded in Christ when we experience crisis, chaotic conditions, disturbing difficulties and turbulent times in our lives.
An anchor is an implement lowered that lays hold of the earth at the bottom of a body of water to secure a ship in place. This is to prevent the ship from drifting due to unfavorable weather conditions, thusly anchoring the ship.
What’s most important to understand, contrary to general belief, is that it is not the weight of the anchor which keeps the ship steady and from drifting. According to research and testing, it is the weight and proper length of the chain which keeps the ship stable. The anchor is attached to the chain, keeping the chain stationary and in place. The real efficiency of the anchor lies in the chain, or what the anchor is connected to.
It is also for us in the so-called storms of life. We must make sure we have the right anchors connected to the right chain. The hymn “In Times Like These” instructs us to “be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock; this Rock is Jesus.” Christ is our chain; Christ is who we are to make sure we are connected to.
In the story of Acts 27, Paul and all on the ship had been battered by a storm for fourteen days. Eleven of those days the sun nor the stars were not visible to them. In these fourteen days, this storm had thrown them off course, had them living in absolute darkness, held them captive in constant suspense, and had caused them to come to the point of losing all hope of ever being saved.
Amid their loss of all hope, God communicated with Paul by an angel the night before that there would be no loss of life, only the ship would be wrecked. Yet even with that, at midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm and its impact on the ship, something had to be done as they feared the ship would be driven against the rocks. So, they let down four anchors and prayed for daylight.
Depending on the severity of one’s storm in life, one anchor may suffice; but as the intensity increases, more anchors may be needed. In Paul’s case, they dropped four anchors.
What anchors, which connect us to Christ, should we put down to secure, stabilize and keep the ship of our lives off the rocks in stormy situations and periods of doubt, despair and hopelessness in life?
In addition to prayer, here are a few anchors we have which chain and connect us to Christ: God’s purpose (Psalm 138:8), God’s plans (Jeremiah 29:11), God’s promise (2 Corinthians 1:20), God’s power (Jeremiah 32:17), God’s presence (Psalms 23:4), God’s protection (Psalms 138:7), and God’s provision (Psalm 23:1).
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is a theological educator, ministry mentor-coach, and speaker. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @jbeaven.