My Anchor Holds

We feel it in these days.

Fear seems to be seeking a foothold and, in some instances, taking away the peace of many. 

I talk to friends and family, and it is the word most often on their lips, even as many of them seek to defy it.

Fear creeps in with circumstances that invade our lives, and we must choose how we will respond, giving in and feeding that apprehension or combating it to take it captive. Once it is allowed to settle into our hearts, it embeds itself like an anchor. The longer an anchor stays grounded in the ocean floor and the winds press against that to which it is attached, the more rooted it becomes. Similarly, as the winds of frightening situations assail us, either directly or indirectly, the anchor of fear becomes even more established into the soil of our souls.

It is important, then, to choose wisely where we will sink our anchor.

It is not that we deny the emotion of fear. Rather, we can acknowledge it, but then, we are called to anchor our lives, our hearts, and our minds in the Hope, which is unshakable, the faith in Him who is able to withstand whatever winds blow.

Jesus told his disciples, and so those of us throughout time that would follow Him, that trouble would come, and we know that often leaves us unsettled. But He also said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”

Jesus calls us, as He called his disciple Peter, not to look at the waves that threatened to overwhelm but to intentionally set our gaze on Him, the Savior.

In Matthew 14, Peter ignored all fear and walked toward Jesus on the water, but when he remembered the vast waters around him and took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. And we will too. Where we set our eyes and on what we choose to dwell in our minds and hearts will determine how we think, what we do, and how we will respond to God Himself.

“Whatever you choose to set your mind on in those moments when you are feeling fearful and anxious – it’s a choice that you make – is precisely the thing that is going to guide and direct you in those moments.” (Darrell B. Harrison, Just Thinking)

Think on that. If we choose to focus on that thing that is most feared, that thing that most troubles our hearts and minds, that thing that sends us into a pit, we will go deeper into darkness that can be suffocating and, our anchor will be set on what we “feel” and “see” more than on what and Who we know!

But if we set our minds and our hearts on “the God of rest” (Ed Welch), then He will guard and protect our minds in Christ Jesus.

We can go to any number of counselors, seek the encouragement of friends, read encouraging books, listen to reassuring music, sermons, or podcasts, and I share some of those below. All of that has its place, and all of that can be good and helpful; but it cannot be our ultimate source. It cannot supplant the place of digging into God’s Word, time in prayer, and leaning on the Holy Spirit Comforter in the life of the follower of Christ.

For, if our hearts and minds are not set on the Sovereign God, who has promised to never leave us or forsake us, who is indeed in control of all things and will either bring us out of trouble or carry us through it, we will always go back to the pit, that place of great fear.

If we do not intentionally set our mind and thoughts, even speaking to ourselves with Truth to reset them, on the One who has His good purposes and is able to do good for, in, and through us with the circumstances of life, we will always be shaken.

He has promised to redeem every thing for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose so we will be more like Him (Romans 8), to carry His sheep tenderly and bring us “safely home” in the rightness of His time. We can lean hard into that!

For He is faithful to every promise He has made whether or not we feel or understand the “why!”

Many “peddle fear in these days” (Virgil Walker, Just Thinking), but we can refuse it.

The enemy of our souls wants to shift our gaze from the Savior to the waves, but we can reject that draw and choose sure sightedness and steadfast trust. In this way, we will find He gives us the grace to “not fear anything that is frightening.” (I Peter 3:6)

“What matters is what we do when fear arises.” (Darrell B. Harrison)

Cease wrestling with fear alone; give it to the One who has “not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Call on Him to do battle against the fear that threatens to undo you, and He will faithfully do just that.

Rest in Him, and let the Savior remove the turmoil within.  

Take the circumstances as they come and immediately turn them over in prayer to His throne, wait on Him and see Him answer. Sometimes it may not be the answer we want, but He has promised to keep us and help us “endure to the end.” (Matthew 24:13)

It may be that you have to give that fear back to Him throughout your day; do it! He will carry you when you don’t have the strength to fight for peace.

Ask Him to increase your faith, to let you know His presence, to give you the supernatural peace that is not dependent on the outcome of any circumstance but on God alone!

Set scripture on your heart and mind that you can have on repeat in your head and on your lips when fear raises its head. For me, the easiest way is to set it to music or there are many already available that make it easy to hide God’s Word in your heart.  

Surround yourself with those who will encourage you in all these ways and for whom you can do the same, each strengthening the other with the Truth!

And above all, rejoice in the Lord, give Him thanks in the midst of unsteady emotions. Remind yourself of all the ways He has been faithful and, if you struggle to think of them, ask Him to bring them to mind!

Yes, set your anchor so that the waves will not overcome, but set it not in fear or worldly wisdom that is easily shaken. Instead, establish it in the firm hold of Jesus, faith in God alone, the Rock of our Salvation! Then, regardless of the circumstances, your foundation will be secure.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.”   Psalm 56:3-4

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

               I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

(Both of these verses are God’s Word I have sung and continue to sing to myself when I begin to feel the weight of fear creeping in. Reset!)

“He will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because He trusts in You, Lord.”  Isaiah 26:3

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:4-5

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…

               But as for me, it is good to draw near to God.

                      I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may proclaim all Your works.”  Psalm 73:26,28

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4,6-7

Excellent Resources to further combat fear in these days.  I will add to this list from time to time. (some links provide but also available on various podcast outlets):

Just Thinking podcast, “Why Are You Afraid?” EP # 113 | Why Are You Afraid? – Just Thinking Ministries

Airing the Addisons podcast, “Let Not Your Heart Nor Your Children’s Heart Be Troubled.” (August 23, 2021)

“Fear Not” Aaron Shust, Ever Be

Do Not Fear (Isaiah 41:10)” Seeds Family Worship, Seeds of Courage

“My Soul Finds Rest (Psalm 62:12)” Seeds Family Worship, When You Lie Down

Be Still (Psalm 46:10) Seeds Family Worship, When You Lie Down

Watch Over Me” Aaron Shust, Whispered and Shouted

“Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elisabeth Elliot

Photo creds: Mili Cook

Seeking to Find

We are seeking something every day, all the time.

We look for items to wear, things to eat, places to go.

We search for work, gifts, helpful things to use.

We use the search bars on our phones and computers.

We seek advice, wisdom, comfort.

We search for information and knowledge.

Depending on what we seek, we do so for our good or to our detriment.

And then, based on where we seek “wisdom” or pleasure, we grow wise, or we become fools.

We increase our strength and our ability to stand, or we weaken our ability to walk secure.

We increase our capacity to investigate and gain insight, or we adhere to the “easy” and lack discernment.

We walk in the light, or we hide in darkness.

We choose to love others, or we choose to love self; and that, in many ways, is dependent on our fear of God or our fear of man.

We intentionally choose to do what we know we should do, or we rationalize and intentionally go our own way.

We choose to feed our faith in the God who is Lord, or we choose to feed fear or anger.

We choose to let the Lord comfort us with His Word, or we seek comfort in the places that never satisfy and can rob us of the joy, comfort, and peace of walking in the light of His Truth.

We allow the Spirit of God to embolden us against the meager attempts of the enemy of our souls, or we give way to the desires of our hearts that are contrary to His.

We can even seek good things, but if we are not seeking the Source of all good things, it will always be watered down and/or we will make it the ultimate thing to our detriment. And when the time comes to choose, we will not draw from that well of strength but from broken cisterns.

Sometimes we thirst for and so seek distraction.

Sometimes we thirst for and so seek comfort.

Sometimes we thirst for and so seek presence.

May we intentionally search for that which will strengthen our souls and deepen our relationship with the Lord Himself, Maker of heaven and earth and Mighty God, and with those to whom we are committed – our spouse, our family, our friends – rather than seeking out distractions that deepen our self-focus and quite often devour what is good, leaving a trail of tears.

May we intentionally seek out the well that is full of Living Water rather than the pail of dry dust.

May we intentionally search for the God Who is I Am and Who is our Sure Hope.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near…” Isaiah 55:6

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

 “In the morning, O LORD, You hear my voice; at daybreak I lay my plea before You and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

“I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands.

Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:10-11

Keep Dancing

If you are married, you were born to dance.

It’s not the “every man to himself” bobbing up and down with no purpose, running into and catching the rhythm with whoever is in close proximity, roaming through the room with multiple dance partners catching your eye, but the steady, seamless cadence of being in step and moving as one.

You were born to dance in time with the one you love.

When you dance in such a way, it is exhilarating; far better than the exhaustion that comes from dancing out of step. Though there will be times we do “miss the beat” and trip over one another’s feet, the goal is then to reset sooner than later and as often as needed to keep in step.

Yes, we were born to dance but also to run the race. Not to win, as in competing against our spouse; rather, as a team, coming together, side by side, cheering each other on, lifting the other up when they stumble and fall.

In the past, dance marathons were a common occurrence. Two would begin and dance both fast and slow until the end…together. They didn’t change partners or walk away no matter how weary one of the two may have gotten, even if one had to literally carry the other.

We are called to lift our spouses. “Carry each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Just as at some points in a dance marathon, one or the other may be able to move with more energy or strength, in marriage we will have times where one or the other is stronger and can “carry” the other more easily. There is no shame in that nor is it to be a contention; it is a gift.

Spiritually, there are times we each need the other to spur us on to look at the cross and to live in the power of that grace, to be challenged but oh to be encouraged! Yes, mutual love, mutual respect, mutual encouragement; but, at varying times, each will bear the other’s burden more intensely. God specifically gives us our husbands and wives to do just that, not in a condescending way, shame-inducing manner, or with a sigh, but in a joy-infused, deeply loving way that is faithfully and tenderly restorative.

“Your wife is the accountability partner God provided for you. And, wives, your husband is the accountability partner God provided for you. According to Him, the two of you are one single entity (the two shall become one)…so step into the light with your real accountabiility partner.” (Matthew L Jacobson, “Who is Your Real Accountability Partner?”)

It’s a gift, not a burden.

Part of keeping the rhythm is keeping all things that can cause us to stumble or create a gap between us cleared out from under our feet; secrets, hurts, weaknesses, fears, distractions from the outside pressing in. If we keep the ground clear, we can maneuver through them together; if we don’t, they will cause us to trip and sometimes fall and we can’t hide that from our dance partners no matter how much we try; we weren’t meant to.

We can’t hide on the dance floor, and we can’t hide in marriage. Why would we want to?

Have you ever seen the kind of “extreme” dancing where the man spins the woman out, lifts her high, pulls her around, and sometimes even flips her? That takes trust. At times, we may feel like our dancing is “extreme” and, in those times, we have to know we can trust the one gripping our hand, that the grip is secure. Trust is built when we intimately know each other, are holding each other up and, when we begin to or do fall; we have a spouse that is there to lift us up, hold us close, show us grace, and restore the rhythm of the music.

The more we each seek to serve the one we love, even in the hardest moments – be it physical distance for an extended time, illness, the busyness of life, temptations that bombard, conflict, or sin that has insidiously made its way in – the more our desire to love and serve them will increase and the more God will strengthen us against sin, chip away at our selfishness, and cause us to love them more deeply rather than ourselves and our selfish desires.

Additionally, the more we each set our intimate sights and imaginations on our spouse rather than on others, the more attractive the one we love will be to us – not just the physical appeal but every aspect. He or she will captivate us and draw us in.

Choose to remember what led you to them and intentionally be on the watch, even list out, those things about your spouse that are a joy to you and others! Delight in those things again and ask the Lord to show you even more. When we choose to think on those things, the lure of “other things” will be easier to pass by.

Don’t be distracted by “shiny things,” but choose to be fascinated by your “one and only” once again. Guard and keep your eyes – literally and figuratively – only for them. Deliberately find ways to increase that wonder and delight in the gift before you.

Speak truth and keep the dance floor clear underneath you.

On the other hand, the more we look around and intentionally or unintentionally compare our spouses to unrealistic images and expectations and/or the deceptive pull of a situation or a person – be it face to face or in some form of media – the less content we will become and the more the enemy will whisper in our ear, “Did God really say? What will it hurt?”

Slam the door on that whisper! Don’t entertain the lie and don’t, for an instant, believe that it is true! Nothing will disrupt the dance more than responding to another whisper.

Most importantly, the more we take our spouses, our marriage, and our own hearts humbly but boldly to the throne of grace, the more our God does exceedingly and abundantly more than we could think or ask, first in us and then in the heart of the one we love!

Whether it be as the dance is sweet and perfectly in time or at the first hint of the dance being interrupted, lean in and pull your bride or groom closer, even if they are far away physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Call out to the One who can battle for you and put a hedge around the dance floor!

Yes, some days and in some seasons, we will be out of sync; but we must never accept that as the norm or allow the enemy of our souls to make us think the music has ended and it is time to add lines to our dance cards or stop dancing altogether. That is not the melody of promise!

In those times, we should be deliberately taking the hand of our “one.” Then, if we stumble over each other’s feet or our own, it will be together.

It takes two to dance an intimate slow dance.  Whether it be dancing or walking as one, we must be intentional about choosing to step on each other’s toes or be afraid of the other’s next move. Rather, we should be able to trust because grace has done and is doing a work in the lives of each of us, and there is nothing hidden.

Dance with abandon because redemption has followed repentance and forgiveness in the small little irritations of life as well as the bigger, more hurtful situations.

Dance with joy because we have “found the one whom my soul loves” (Song of Solomon 3:4) and we are growing in that love that is able to stand the test of time and the shifting winds that blow.

There is something beautiful about continually and intentionally choosing each other again and again; there is something about keeping our affections for and on our one.

There is wonder in rekindling desire with the one to whom we said “I do” when life has made us weary.

There is delight in transparency made possible by grace.

And there is great joy in picking up the beat of the music and the rhythm of their hearts, choosing once again to keep in step.

Hear the music and move as one. If the music has grown faint or even silent, be deliberate about making melody together again. You will be amazed at how your love, attraction, and desire for your husband or wife will rekindle and how refreshed your marriage can be.

But don’t stop there!

Keep choosing! Keep pursuing! Keep fixing your gaze first on the Savior and, immediately thereafter, on the one with whom you walked the aisle and promised, yes even vowed, to love, honor, and cherish.

See the beauty! See the holiness, the sacred delight of dancing with the one you love… all the way to the end!

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up….Though one can be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

We Will Dance  

by Steven Curtis Chapman

I’ve watched the sunrise in your eyes And I’ve seen the tears fall like the rain You’ve seen me fight so brave and strong You’ve held my hand when I’m afraid

We’ve watched the seasons come and go We’ll see them come and go again But in winter’s chill, or summer’s breeze One thing will not be changin’

We will dance When the sun is shining In the pouring rain We’ll spin and we’ll sway And we will dance When the gentle breeze Becomes a hurricane The music will play And I’ll take your hand And hold you close to me And we will dance

Sometimes it’s hard to hold you tight Sometimes we feel so far apart Sometimes we dance as one And feel the beating of each others hearts

Some days the dance is slow and sweet Some days we’re bouncing off the walls No matter how this world may turn Our love will keep us from fallin’

And we will dance When the sun is shining In the pouring rain We’ll spin and we’ll sway And we will dance When the gentle breeze Becomes a hurricane The music will play And I’ll take your hand And hold you close to me And we will dance

The music will play And I’ll hold you close And I won’t let you go Even when our steps Grow weak and slow Still I’ll take your hand And hold you close to me And we, will dance.