"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul"
- Hebrews 6:19a
I didn’t like my sermon on Sunday. No, I didn’t preach heresy. At least I don’t think I did. No, I didn’t cuss. And, no, I didn’t do this. But I still didn’t like it. It didn’t come out the way I wanted. I just seemed “off” and out of sync. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes, I guess.
But that didn’t stop me from beating myself up pretty good over it. If I could have kicked my own posterior, I would have. In fact, I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon and evening in a funk, wondering if I’m too old for law school.
My inner-voice was little more than a crescendo of condemnation. It grew louder and louder, reciting and reminding me of all my inadequacies and failures as a pastor, real and perceived. Between us, my inner-voice is kind of a jerk.
When I awakened Monday morning, I was still in a sour mood. I drank my cup of coffee, sulked into my car, dropped my kids off at school, and made my way work. Frustrated, I sat down at my desk, cracked open my laptop, and then - out of little more than sense of routine - my Bible.
Somewhat robotically, I started my daily reading plan. The empathetic words of the psalmist refreshed me, like a gentle rain on the dry, cracked soil of my soul. He didn't brag about his successes. He spoke openly of his failures, and God's lingering love in the midst of them. Soon, something amazing happened. I remembered and started to believe the gospel again!
As I read, I realized how my funk on Sunday and into Monday was the result of me trusting not in Christ for my standing, security, and satisfaction, but rather in my own performance. I anchored much of my sense of security in my ability and performance as a pastor. When it faltered, my anchor failed and my emotions soon floated adrift into a disorienting fog of faithlessness and consequent fear.
I was never meant to find my strength, security, and satisfaction in my own performance. Rather, I was made to stand on Christ’s righteousness, his performance, on my behalf. Ultimately, he alone gives me standing. Ultimately, he alone secures me. Ultimately, he alone satisfies. In him, God's approval and affection are mine. What more could I need? Assured of his perfect love, whom should I fear? Invited to share in his joy, what more could I want? In the words of a beautiful hymn, "When all around me my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay."
Yes, Christ is a better anchor than I could ever be. In fact, he’s the only true anchor for any of our souls.
You know, in hindsight, I’m a little glad that sermon kind of stunk. Because if it was better, I probably would have just gone home with a smile, stuffed my face full of pizza, and watched football, continuing to anchor my sense of security and satisfaction in the wrong thing: me. Instead, my delusions of self-trust first gave way to fear, but then - through the gift of faith - an increased trust in my Christ, my all-sufficient Savior.
Child of God: Smooth seas will shipwreck your soul more easily than stormy waters. Smooth seas fill us with delusion; they allow us to entertain the lie that we're sufficient, the captains of our destinies. They create the illusion that we don't need Jesus.
Stormy waters, on the other hand, bring us to the end of ourselves; they make us cry out for Jesus. They drive us to seek an anchor so much stronger than what batters us.
C.H. Spurgeon, the world-renowned Prince of Preachers, didn't have an easy life. In response to life's difficulties and afflictions, he famously remarked, "I've learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages." When waves of failure and disappointment come crashing in, let them throw you against Jesus. Don't curse the wave. Kiss it.
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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