For those of you who have suddenly propelled a passenger seat full of take out or business files into the floorboard because of road construction. I feel your pain! If you suddenly found yourself covered in that hot or cold beverage that was just moments before nonchalantly poised in your spare hand because of road construction? I feel your pain! It doesn’t matter who you are, unexpected things come our way. Let me, though be quick to apply the 90/10 rule. Life is 10 percent about what happens to you and 90 percent of how you deal with it. So, how are you handling what’s handling you?
One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is about the apostle Paul and his journey to Rome. God has already promised him that he would one day stand before Caesar and in chapter 27 as he nears his destination he faces a shipwreck. Talk about a sudden stop! As you read this story remember that the writer Luke is a physician not a sailor, he is scared spit- less! Paul is the only one going to Rome with a promise in his heart; the other 275 have nothing but fear! Let’s pause for a moment and remember that the tendency is to first focus on the circumstances in the storms and not God’s objective. Remember also that God always has a plan. Paul had a clear and promised destination… do you? Well if you are a Christian, you do as well! So, what do you do when the storms hit? How do you move on when it seems life is over? Let me quickly offer three anchors to help us as we navigate those storms and sudden stops life throws our way.
Number one, the anchor of stability. The prophet Isaiah said, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” The anchor of stability holds firm when your navigation system fails. Secondly the anchor of Unity. In the storm Paul admonishes them to stay together, “And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.” Our tendency in dire straights is to cut and run. That’s when you need God’s people the most. Lastly you need the anchor of Faith in God. Paul was told earlier in this chapter that all would be saved from harm, “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” Now listen to the end result, “But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.” Now lets do the math here, how many started the journey? 276. How many did God say would make it safely? 276. How many made it safely to shore? You guessed it, 276! My, how God is faithful!
Though we will be faced with the storms and the sudden stops of life, we can each have these anchors for stability assuring us of a safe passage. In Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, stands a monument commemorating the great discoverer. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial is a statue of a lion destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain’s motto for centuries. Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth. Thus their motto was “Ne Plus Ultra,” which means “No More Beyond.” The word being torn away by the lion is “ne” or “no,” making it read “Plus Ultra.” Columbus had proven that there was indeed “more beyond.” C. S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Are you ready? Ready for the inevitable sudden stop?
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.