Summary: Four anchors that can help wither the storms of life.
A few years ago I was called to the hospital. A young lady in our church was 9 months pregnant and was about to have her baby but something was wrong. When I got there I found out that just the night before she sensed something was wrong. She went to the hospital. She had had good checkups every visit to the doctor. But now the doctors could not detect a heartbeat. There was no movement. They were about to induce labor for what they knew was a dead baby. Karen and Mike were broken hearted. You see, as if this wasn’t enough of a burden, the year before Karen had carried a baby the full term only to see the same thing happen. When she delivered the baby the baby had mysteriously died. It was a major storm in their lives.
Friday, Betty Doyal had emergency surgery to remove a pocket of infection off her spine. It was a staph infection and though the surgery was serious and urgent the doctors were hopeful they would have success. After the surgery about 9:00pm the doctors said they had removed much of the infection but that it had also absorbed into the surrounding tissue. Hopefully her immune system would kick in and fight off the remaining infection. Jody and I left St. Mary’s that night feeling hopeful. I think Jim and David felt hopeful as well. But, yesterday morning my phone rang. A storm was raging. It had been bad weather but now it was a full storm. Betty’s kidneys had shut down. Her immune system was not working. Infection was overtaking her body. She was bleeding internally. There was nothing the doctors could do. They told Jim to call in the family. When I got there I was taken to a small locker room inside intensive care where Jim was praying, pouring his heart out to God. A storm was raging.
Nobody likes to be caught in a storm. One of the worst places to be caught in a storm is in a boat on the sea. In 2 Cor. Chapter 11, about three years before chapter 27 of Acts Paul writes that he had survived 3 storms. The first three were not described. Perhaps Luke, his physician and secretary, wasn’t with him the first three wrecks and Paul didn’t bother to record anything about them. It may be that the first three were not nearly as bad as this one so they weren’t recorded. This description of the shipwreck was, by the way, the best description ever written on sailing techniques on the Mediterranean Sea from antiquity. Lets read the chapter.
My message today is entitled “Anchors in the Storm”. We can learn some things from Paul today that can help us wither the storms that will inevitably come to all of us. Verse 29 says they put down 4 anchors and prayed for day to come. I want us to consider 4 anchors to help us wither the storms of life.
I. The Anchor of God’s Presence
Paul’s life was punctuated by God’s presence and providence. Many times through the book of Acts God’s voice speaks to Paul, or an angel of God shows up at a critical moment, or the Holy Spirit directs or redirects Paul during urgent times. Look at verses 23-24.
Before the book of Acts was written God promised His presence.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
God knew there would be hard times. He knew there would be persecution and opposition. That’s why we can be sure of success when we step out in faith to fulfill God’s will- we have His promised presence with us. A favorite verse is
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. NKJV
But a little later in Romans 8 it asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Paul writes:
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I feel sorry for someone like Henley who wrote the famous poem “Invictus” whose final stanza reads:
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,