Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Anchor Holds

Years ago, a Christian artist recorded a song titled The Anchor Holds. It was a brilliant articulation of the idea that, Christ is the only reliable anchor in the midst of life's raging storms. It also served as a poignant reminder that the storms of life are an inevitable part of living. I am amazed at how many of us, though we know this fact in theory, are taken by surprise when hit with tragedy or difficulty. In recent weeks we have read of tragedies across the world that have left families devastated and searching for answers. The collapsed mine in Utah, in which trapped miners including a young father of three young children, lost their lives, readily springs to mind, as does the raging hurricane, Dean, which has reportedly already taken twelve lives in the Carribean, and is currently threatening the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as a category five storm (the worst and deadliest hurricane there is).

Sometimes, what is missed in all the pain of the tragedy is the amazing heroism of ordinary people, living ordinary lives, but who end up doing extraordinary feats. The young father of three apparently threw himself over another miner who was alongside him attempting to rescue the original six miners that had been trapped in a preceding cave-in, saving the life of his fellow rescuer while sacrificing his own. I think the Church could learn a thing or two from stories like this. Supreme sacrifice is actually the measure of real Christianity! It is the story of the Cross. We have made it about "supreme success" with little said about sacrifice. In essence, we have begun preaching "another gospel." That is largely because the message of sacrifice is not a palatable message in todays Church. In our "motivational" world of success strategies, where success is measured largely by accomplishments, sacrifice is kicked to the kerb in favor of the "What's in it for me?" culture.

Let me quote a friend on why sacrifice is a "four-letter" word in today's Christian vocabulary.

"You won't turn on television and hear many preachers declaring such a message [a message about sacrifice over success] nor will you visit many churches and hear it either. The reason is it will not attract a crowd. But it will attract God, and He attracts a crowd. The Gospel is not a story of success but rather one of sacrifice. Yes, it creates success, but success that is born of sacrifice not of greed and self-centeredness. The message of success without sacrifice begets cowards not heroes. It gives birth to those who put themselves above all others; who desert in the heat of battle, and who abandon ship when it begins to take on a little water."

It behooves us to remember that the salvation we so freely enjoy was not free; it came at the greatest price. The ultimate supreme sacrifice was made. The intersection of God's love and the Cross of Christ is where we experience the greatest demonstration of sacrifice that breeds success. As we pray for our own needs today, let's make it a point to say a heartfelt prayer for the bereaved and beleaugered families of the recent global tragedies (beyond just Utah and Mexico), knowing that they have paid a high price in reminding us of our mortality in the midst of life's raging storms. If you are a Christian, then you can draw comfort from knowing that "The Anchor Holds."