Posted by: rcottrill | September 19, 2012

My Anchor Holds

Words: William Clark Martin (b. Dec. 25, 1864; d. Aug. 30, 1914)
Music: Daniel Brink Towner (b. Apr. 5:1850; d. Oct. 3, 1919)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: William Martin was a Baptist pastor who served at least five different churches in New England, Indiana and Florida. He was also a hymn writer. The Cyber Hymnal lists three dozen of his songs, among them: My Father Watches Over Me, The Name of Jesus Is So Sweet, and Still Sweeter Every Day. My Anchor Holds was written in 1902. Pastor Martin died at the relatively young age of fifty.

On October 15th, 1954, Hurricane Hazel struck Southern Ontario, where I lived with my parents. It was by far the most devastating storm to hit the area in recorded history. Eighty-one lives were lost, and four thousand left homeless. Many bridges and roads were washed out. Raw sewage backed up into our basement. Four feet of it!

At one point in the long night, I decided to go outside to see what a hurricane felt like. (Boys will be boys!) I remember the difficulty standing–even close to the house, and the rain stinging my face like hundreds of tiny bullets. It was a relief to get back into our solidly built brick home.

It has reminded me many times of our spiritual need for a safe refuge and secure anchor. (And, yes, some of the stormy situations we face because of our own choices, as mine was in the hurricane.) Many hymn writers, before the days of air travel particularly, used the turbulent sea to depict the turmoil and conflict in our lives, and to describe how Christ is the answer for the safety and security of our souls.

CH-1) Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I’ve an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure.

And it holds, my anchor holds:
Blow your wildest, then, O gale,
On my bark so small and frail;
By His grace I shall not fail,
For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

Our hope in Christ is described as providing an eternal anchor in Hebrews:

“[We] have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:18-20).

How wonderful that we have a spiritual haven provided by our Saviour! The children of God are contrasted with the unsaved in this way: They are “without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). Rather than children of God, they are “children of wrath” those fitted by nature for eternal condemnation (Eph. 2:1-3). We are sheltered in Christ through faith in His atoning sacrifice. And the absolute security that is ours is affirmed:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31-35, 38-39; cf. Jn. 10:28-29).

CH-4) Troubles almost ’whelm the soul;
Griefs like billows o’er me roll;
Tempters seek to lure astray;
Storms obscure the light of day:
But in Christ I can be bold,
I’ve an anchor that shall hold.

1) Even though we are secure in Christ, what kinds of things can make us feel otherwise, or seem to threaten our security?

2) What other hymns and gospel songs can you think of that use the stormy sea as imagery to describe the trials we face and God’s provision for them?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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