We sang that hymn yesterday at the local annual Girls’ and Boys’ Brigade service. It is the hymn of the Boys’ Brigade movement (here is a version of it that evokes all those associations), but it took the fancy of my Girls Brigade daughter.
It came back to mind on my walk this morning. It is a gloriously sunny day here in Wellington, but there is snow on the Orongorongo range, and huge swells breaking on the south coast. But we live in Island Bay: a pretty safe anchorage for the local fishing fleet, sheltered by Taputeranga Island. Even there, watching the boats swaying at anchor brought to mind the time, decades ago now, when a friend’s catamaran was ripped from its anchor and smashed on the rocks. And the broken sea wall is still testament to the power of a nasty storm a couple of years ago – and a local Council that won’t do the basics.
Days like today remind us of the danger of the sea, and the fears it has always held. The imagery in Scripture is never of peaceful coasts and paddling in the sun. It is of storm and tempest. So many have lost their lives at sea – and even on this wild south coast of Wellington. The prayer always is for the safe return to harbour of those who ventured out, to fish, to trade or to explore.
And thus, perhaps, our lives. Through the tempests and turmoils most face at one time or another, God won’t finally let us go. Other things may not – won’t finally – hold. At times, God can be hard to hear or see. Dark nights and turmoil are not things we are promised to be free of in this life. But God holds before us the hope of the new heaven and the new earth – in this hymn, the city of gold and harbour bright. We have an anchor that keeps the soul. Thank God.
1. Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife? When the strong tides lift and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain?
Refrain: We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!
2. Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear, when the breakers roar and the reef is near? While the surges rave and the wild winds blow, shall the angry waves then your bark o’er flow?
3. Will your eyes behold through the morning light the city of gold and the harbour bright? Will you anchor safe by the heavenly shore, when life’s storms are past forever more?