I love the beach but I’ve never been a big fan of the ocean. It’s the home of many amazing creatures and while I thoroughly enjoy watching them and find ocean life quite interesting, I prefer to enjoy it through books, photos and a little distance :)
I love the smell of the ocean.
I love the cool breeze flowing through my hair.
I love the colors and the beauty of the sun rising and setting over the water.
I love the feel of my toes digging into the sand.
I love the warmth beating down on my skin, little beads of sweat glimmering.
I love the families gathered throwing a football or frisbee.
I love the giggles of small children building sandcastles and running along the waters edge.
I love watching people and wondering about their lives, their stories.
I love seeing couples, hands joined together as they walk barefoot along the shore.
I love the look of storm clouds as they draw near.
I love the smiles.
I love the sense of peace.
I love how strangers gather from all over the country or even the world and for a moment, life stops…
There are no strangers.
Everyone is there for the same thing…a get away, a time of joy, rest, relaxation.
It’s an opportunity for folks to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy new friends.
People from all over get to know one another.
It’s a chance to breathe.
For a moment.
My sweet friend, Suzie Eller, author or The Unburdened Heart and The Mended Heart (which happens to be the current online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries), offered a blog prompt this week that I knew would spark my desire to pour out my thoughts. Her prompt for this week was: Anchored.
I’ve never been a fan of all things nautical. You know, the navy and white stripes, dabs of red tossed in. Images of seashells, fish, lighthouses, ships, life preservers and anchors…they haven’t been something of importance to me. Having lived a mere five hours from the beach my entire life, I’ve been to the ocean more than a handful of times but the nautical trend just never appealed to me. Every beach house seemed over decorated with nautical lamps, wallpaper boarders, shower curtains, soap dispensers, light fixtures, bath rugs, bedding, dresser knobs and more. You name it, they had it.
Last year on December 17th, a dear friend gave me a journal she had crafted especially for me. She knows my love for writing and she knows how quickly I fill up my journals. It was the perfect gift. It was even more special because she decorated it with love and wrote a sweet note for me on the inside. On the outside, was an anchor and a verse…
This journal was just a plain and simple composition book that was turned into something beautiful, just for me. She thought of me as she clipped images and words to cover the front and back. She prayed for me as she thought of the perfect verse to place on the cover. She had hope for me when I was struggling to find hope for myself. She gave me hope in the shape of an anchor with these words from Hebrews…
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19
Up to that point, the anchor never really meant anything to me. When I first saw the journal, I loved it because of who it was from and the meaning behind it but it took a little time for me to grow to love the anchor. Honestly, I think I just couldn’t understand yet, but God was teaching me. Thankfully, He hasn’t stopped teaching me.
I had just finished up another journal so the day I received this one, I began filling it with my personal stories, words straight from my tattered and worn heart, letters formed from moments of desperation, pain, heartache, confusion, sadness, and a fading hope and zest for life.
I didn’t feel anchored.
I felt like a shipwrecked girl lost, battered and bruised, beyond repair, praying for a way out.
As I’ve shared before, the months that would follow my days of filling that particular journal, were at best, difficult. I faced many days of contemplating life, its meaning, purpose, hopelessness. The depression I had lived with nearly all my life was at its lowest…but I wasn’t afraid. Maybe that was not necessarily a good thing. You see, I wasn’t afraid to die. I was ready. I spent so much time with God in those months. I cried out to Him, prayed, read Scripture after Scripture. I soaked in it. I breathed it. I embraced it. And all that time, I longed to be free. I ached for my ship to sail. I begged for God to let me come home. And one particular night in February, I tried to make that happen.
It didn’t. And since then, life has been one lesson after another. I am learning to live. I am learning to face each day with hope and joy, in spite of my circumstance or my desire to find freedom from life and be with God.
There are verses that were dear to me in those months. I continue to cling to them.
Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me.”
David wrote, “I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17
While I spent months preparing to die, God was preparing me to live. He was teaching me. He was drawing me closer to Him. I truly believe I had to experience those months of darkness, difficulty, pain, sorrow, grief, hopelessness, and loneliness in order to understand just how much I needed Him. I knew I wanted Him, but I wanted Him as an escape, as an end to a life of suffering. I wanted out.
He was preparing me for something more. He’s still preparing me.
It’s only been in the past few weeks that I could truly appreciate how much that anchor would mean to me. Now, I can’t stop myself from looking at anchors, trying to find things with an anchor on it. In fact, the anchor anklet I purchased last week is also in the image above with the journal. I’ve developed a new love for all things nautical because for me, they symbolize the stormy seas of life and even through the storm, the anchor holds.
You see, I had let go. I had given up on life. I had given up on allowing God to use me even though I knew my purpose. I’ve known for years now that I’m supposed to write. I’ve known most of my life that God was going to one day use me to help others who had been hurt, who felt alone, who needed a safe place to cry. But I was willing to give up, perhaps out of fear or desperation or something else. I still have days where I find myself unsure of whether I want to face the day. I may always. But I know there is purpose, His purpose. I know part of that purpose is like Paul said, “…for your progress and joy in the faith.”
When I had let go on life, God refused to let go of me. An anchor holds. An anchor keeps a ship in its place. Until the anchor is detached, the ship is secure.
God is my anchor.
He is my security.
He is holding me.
When you have no understanding of the trials you face, when you question purpose and plans, when you find yourself doubting if God really cares or if He could love someone as broken as you, know these truths…
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
The things that have taught me the most, I have learned through the most difficult moments. The times that have brought me the closest to God, have been the times when there was nothing else. Through the pain and suffering, through nightmares, memories, flashbacks, excruciating pains deep in my chest, loss, abandonment, neglect, depression, hopelessness and more, I have learned that God is the One I need most in my life. With Him, I am confident that everything will work out. He is the One who holds me up. He is the One who keeps me going. He is the One that hasn’t let go of me.
In Philippians 1:6, Paul said, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
And I believe that is the greatest thing I could have learned…that I am confident. I’m not confident in myself but I am absolutely confident in Him, in the One who holds me, keeps me on shore, calms the storm, parted the sea. I can face each day because…
He is my anchor.
He is my refuge.
He is my strength.
He is my hope.
He is my comfort.
He is my peace.
He is my joy.
In Him, I am anchored.
It’s a daily choice.
It’s a daily battle.
I don’t know if it ever really gets easier.
What I do know is that through all the ugliness I have seen in my life, God has softened my heart, given me compassion and understanding, a desire to help, support, and comfort others. He’s given me the need to write and filled my heart and mind with words aching to be bound between covers.
Again, it’s a choice. If you’re facing a storm and you can’t find your anchor, perhaps He is the one holding onto you. I hope you will embrace and trust Him. I hope you, too, can see that He is your anchor in the storm.
I purposely titled this…
Most of the time, I like to add … to my titles. My reason for using the period with this title is because…
With Him, I have all I need.
With Him, there is hope.
With Him, I am who I need to be.
With Him, there is purpose.
With Him, all things are possible.
With Him, there is a plan, a perfect plan.
With Him, everything falls into place, even when I cannot see or understand.
In Him, I am anchored – and that is all I need. Period.
And as a special treat, here’s a beautiful “Anchor” song for you…I hope you’ll listen to it and feel His embrace as He is holding you.
Hillsong – “Anchor”