The rowboat looked lonely and abandoned.
It rocked gently back and forth nudged by the wind, this way and that.
It bobbed and bounced up and down, lifted by the tide and then released. Slowly it drifted up the shoreline.
No destination awaited the boat; it just floated along at the mercy of water and wind. You see, the weather-beaten vessel, battered and worn, had neither anchor nor oars.
Often times, we feel like the empty and forlorn rowboat, adrift and without purpose, aimlessly going with the flow but not really heading anywhere, lost in a sea of despair with no navigator on board.
Recently one of my loved ones shared with me a conversation he engaged in with a co-worker. When asked what he thought the purpose of life was, the co-worker replied, “Why do you need one?” The co-worker is highly intelligent, a person of reason and logic, but it still surprises me that anyone would believe we humans don’t need a purpose in life.
I fear there are scads of such people out there in the world, living their lives with no purpose. I picture them as hollow humans floating along without oars to propel them to a meaningful existence and without an anchor to hold them steadfastly firm in life’s storms. To them, life must seem shallow and obviously worthless.
Perhaps that is why issues such as abortion and euthanasia don’t raise a red flag to them. What difference would it make to end the life of an unborn child or an elderly person if life is pointless? If it were true that life has no purpose then it also has no value.
I can’t imagine thinking that life is futile and insignificant. That concept rubs me raw and saddens me to my core. I feel an urgency for those of us who value life to reach out to those who don’t. Somehow, we who know the Truth must speak it whether we are given the opportunity to do so in a public forum before multitudes or privately to just one person who is adrift in a sea of irrelevance.
American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
I agree with that statement that we need to set sail, not lie at anchor, but I also believe we need an anchor. It sounds contradictory but I think God is our anchor and our oars at the same time.
An anchor is a strong device that prevents a vessel from drifting in the wind or water’s current. In early times, anchors were probably large, heavy rocks that moored the boat to the sea’s floor. The rock held the boat firmly in place, resisting the forces of storms which would propel the craft hither and yon were there no anchor.
I envision us human beings as vessels who all too often encounter storms in our lives. The storms can shake us, scatter us, toss us about, and force us into places that make us cringe with anxiety, especially if we have no anchor. But those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior do possess a solid mooring, which holds them firmly and steadfastly as they weather life’s virulent storms.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf,” Hebrews 6:19 says.
Just as an anchor holds a ship safely in its position, likewise the hope and faith I place in my Savior guarantees my destination -heaven. A ship’s anchor is thrust downward into the ocean bed, but my anchor in Jesus lifts upward into the heavenly realm, where Jesus Himself is moored to the Father.
What better anchor could I possibly find? Scripture tells me many times in the Bible that my faith will keep me firm and steadfast, even through the ferocity of a storm. Here are just a few examples:
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” ~ Psalm 40:2
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” ~ 1 Peter 5:10
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” ~ Proverbs 10:25
Even though I stand firm in my faith with Christ the rock as my anchor, I envision God as my oars as well. Without oars, I cannot move forward, I can’t make progress, I can’t arrive at my destination. I would just float along, drifting aimlessly without purpose.
Hebrews 2:1 tells me, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” The truth I’ve heard and believe is that Christ died on the cross to bridge the gap between us and the Father, saving us and reconciling us to the Father, something we sinners could never attain on our own.
As a believer, I must grasp tightly to God’s oars of purpose, so I don’t drift into meaninglessness, false teaching, and the worldly lures of the flesh. I do that by engaging in a personal relationship with Him, praying and conversing with Him, seeking truth and knowledge from His Holy Word.
Furthermore, I’ve been given the Holy Spirit to serve as my guide, my oars. “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” ~ Ezekiel 36:27
The Spirit propels me just as oars in a boat; He steers me through dangerous waters by reminding me of His Word. He gives me direction, serving as my navigator, while He moves me along. In Acts 17:28 it is written, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
I cannot navigate in a purposeful way to accomplish what God wants me to do for His kingdom if I don’t relinquish the oars to Him, if I don’t allow Him to live in me, and if He is not in the innermost part of my being – my heart and soul. But I can not be stagnant, listlessly complacent in my journey of faith. The Spirit urges me to keep sailing onward, gaining more knowledge and understanding of God and His Word.
Charting my course through the water’s current where He leads doesn’t mean I will always coast along with smooth sailing or that I won’t encounter rough seas, rushing rapids, or an onslaught of storms. But I should share what I have learned through those difficult times with others, so they too may come to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ, even amid life’s struggles.
Serving Him while I encourage another fellow sailor to keep from capsizing – that is my purpose here on this earth and the purpose of generations who traveled the seas before me and those who will follow after me.
“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” ~ Psalm 33:11