We are a part of the least patient generation in history.
Last year, U.S. drivers wasted nearly 7 billion hours in traffic. Despite our impatience, we continue to flood the cities where we know we will waste time sitting in traffic, rather than choosing to move to a smaller city or town which would require much less patience. Why is that?
Because we believe that on the other side of the hassle, the inconvenience and the craziness of a congested city is something of value. A value of world class amenities, sports teams, some of the best jobs in the world. We intuitively know that to simply flee is to give up on an irreplaceable good.
But when we are sitting in the middle of that traffic day in and day out, we’re frustrated, and it reveals our impatience. We get creative about which back roads to take in order to avoid the busy highway, we create a contingency plan. Even though this has usually proven to take just as long or even longer to get us to where we’re going, we keep doing it. We prefer to be moving rather than standing still…because movement gives the illusion of making progress, of being in control.
STORMS, SHIPS & ANCHORS
These are the key pieces of the imagery we will see in our Hebrews text today.
The job of the anchor is to keep the ship fixed to the seabed no matter the condition of the sea. It connects to the unmovable object which is the solid ground beneath the shifting tides up above. The rougher the weather, the more important the anchor is for the safety and stability of the ship.
Our human tendency while we’re enduring a “storm” or crisis is to run or avoid it, to rely on what we perceive as the best or shortest way out.
- We’ve convinced ourselves that the anchor will not hold.
- We’re convinced that the best chance at survival is trusting ourselves, our speed to flee or cleverness to avoid.
Keep in mind the purpose of the anchor as well as our human tendency of impatience and desire for control…
Hebrews 6:11-16 – “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 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.”
> God’s Promise to Abraham
Genesis 12 describes the call of Abraham and the initial struggles he endured. God promises him he would father a great family, that it would turn into a great nation, and that he would be a blessing to all nations.
“…since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself…”
We swear by something greater than ourselves when making an oath or promise in order to SEAL our oath (i.e., “I swear on my mother’s grave”). Failing to keep an oath in turn shows disrespect to what was sworn by. In ancient times, swearing on your children’s lives meant your children would be killed if you did not uphold your oath.
God cannot swear by something greater, because there is nothing greater than God. For him to break his oath would mean to disrespect himself, to essentially DETHRONE himself as God. This is why God cannot tell a lie.
- Hebrews 6:17-18 – “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his promise, 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.”
> Abraham Patiently Waited
Decades go by but Abraham and his wife, Sarah, still have no son. God keeps reminding and reassuring Abraham of the covenant, asking him to be patient. After more waiting, Sarah makes a contingency plan, asking her maidservant Hagar to sleep with Abraham. She bears a son they name Ishmael, and Abraham asks God to make him the heir. But God reasserts the covenant, that he and Sarah would bear a son.
Thirteen more years go by, Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 90 years old, and God again appears to Abraham and reasserts his covenant. This time Abraham and Sarah laugh–Genesis 17:17 – “Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?'”
But God fulfills his promise, and Sarah gives birth to a son they called Isaac.
Abraham waits 25 YEARS for a son. But his faith is tested again when he is asked to take Isaac to the mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering (read the story in Genesis 22). Abraham obeys, he takes his son to the mountain, places him on the wood and has his knife ready…when an Angel of the Lord calls out to him: “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
This was an ultimate test to Abraham’s faith and trust in God. He was being asked, “what do you love more: ME or my fulfilled promises?”
> Imitating Abraham’s Patience
In learning to wait patiently and faithfully, we have Abraham’s example to imitate. A man who was by no means perfect, who doubted and laughed at God, but ultimately trusted and obeyed. BECAUSE God made an oath to him, Abraham was able to wait patiently.
JESUS IS THE ANCHOR
Hebrews 6:17-20 – “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.”
Our hope is not some abstract commodity, our hope is a person, the person of Jesus Christ. Who has overcome every concealable obstacle, even the final foe of death itself. He is the greater high priest forever, he is our anchor. This is God’s oath to us, and God cannot lie.
“Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” — This means he has already entered the storms that we face, the storm of our sin and the wrath due to sin, and he walked out of the grave victorious. He has already experienced the CALM on the other side of the storm, He is the reason for it.
Revelation 21: 1-3 – “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with people as their God.'”
WHY CAN’T WE ESCAPE THE STORM SOME OTHER WAY?
Perhaps there are some smaller storms that you can outrun or out-maneuver if you have enough money or cleverness or luck. But not every storm…at some point you will encounter a storm too wide to get around and too fast to outrun. And attempting to will leave you lost within the storm, in a crisis.
There is at least one storm in life, the storm of death, that no one can outrun or avoid. There is but one way to survive and that is setting an anchor and waiting out the storm.
But why must this be the only way?
Remember 6:17 – “The unchangeable character of his purpose”
It must be this way, because it has always been this way. This is the unchangeable eternal plan of God…from the very foundation of the universe God’s plan has been redemption through his Son–the anchor.
Do you get to choose whether or not you need air to live? Well, neither do you get to choose the way through the toughest of all storms. The only thing we get to choose is whether or not we will accept God’s undeserved offer of grace to enter the calm through his chosen anchor.
Our tendency is to rank everything, to always find a reason to complain, and see our opinion and way as the best way. But the sooner we stop complaining that there are not more ways around this ultimate storm, stop trying to rework our finite minds to find a better way than the infinite mind of God has already determined, and start celebrating that there is even “A” way, the sooner we will begin to be a blessing to this city, to our neighbors, and to those we love.
God has given us a way through the storm and that is already so much more than we deserve.
What if we stop and celebrate?
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW STORMS?
1) Storms are a sign of God’s love and care for us.
God does not allow storms as a means to test whether Jesus as the anchor is strong enough. God knows that Jesus is enough, we are the ones that often don’t recognize it. God allows the storms so that we might see that Jesus as the anchor is strong enough, that he’s all we need.
Recognizing this truth is for our own good…so God allows storms for our good. Perhaps we are not fully believing or fully trusting, perhaps we have forgotten.
Think back to Abraham. Why would God ask him to sacrifice his son Isaac after he had waited patiently 25 years for that storm to end? God brings this new trial–this new storm–to make sure Abraham will not forget that his relationship with God is more precious than the sweetest of fulfilled promises.
Don’t love the calm sea more than the anchor.
Don’t love the promises more than the promiser.
But we must not view storms as punishment. Storms are signs of God’s love and care for us. God is preparing us for the bigger storm which will eventually come for each of us.
2) Storms provide wind to “cast down” obstacles in our relationship with God.
R.H. Tawney — “Like an engineer, who, to direct the oncoming tide, dams all channels except the one through which it is to pour, like a painter who makes light visible by plunging all that is not light in gloom, the Christian attunes his heart to the voice from Heaven by an immense effort of concentration and abnegation. To win all, he renounces all. When earthly props have been cast down, the soul stands in the presence of God.”
Sometimes only the full winds of a storm can take down the false props of this earth and only leave Jesus Christ standing.
ANCHOR FOR MY SOUL
A key distinction is that the anchor is not just for your physical body, your career, your romantic relationships, but YOUR SOUL.
The gospel of Jesus Christ never promises that storms will not bear down on your ship, in fact it proves that even the son of God endured the greatest of storms. What the gospel does promise is that no matter the magnitude of the storm, the grade of the hurricane, it cannot destroy your soul, because of your anchor, Jesus Christ.
You may be experiencing a storm right now, you might feel completely lost in the middle of it with no way out. But remember that it doesn’t mean God has forsaken you. Jesus is still with you, he has gone as a forerunner on your behalf. HE IS THE ANCHOR FOR YOUR SOUL.
1. Apply these keys to be reminded of Jesus as the anchor to your soul in the midst of a storm:
- ZOOM OUT – In the midst of a crisis. Look at the constant message God has delivered over thousands of years through the prophets, the apostles and Jesus.
- APPLY THE JESUS FILTER – Look at everything God has done and said through the lens of Jesus. Being the ultimate revelation of God, Jesus sheds light on all of God’s other communication. God never contradicts himself. Read the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John to learn more about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- TURN IT DOWN – Get into the right posture of hearing — clear the distractions. Turn down the music, give yourself space and time to hear from God, whether that is by prayer, reading the Scriptures, or by creating time in your schedule to worship and discuss Jesus in community. Join a Fellowship Group. We need to teach each other and practice together softening our hearts to the voice of God.
2. Converse about this topic with others:
- What is a storm you’re currently wrestling with?
- What does it look like to throw our anchor overboard and wait out the storm?
3. Reflect personally on the condition of your heart:
- Are you more in love with God or with His fulfilled promises?
- Do you truly believe Jesus as your anchor is enough to weather any storm?
4. Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.