Edward Mote walked to work one day in 1834 thinking of how blessed he was to be a Christian. He wanted to write a song that would praise God adequately. That day at work, he penned a line here and a line there, until he had the song mostly finished before the workday was over.
At the end of the week, a friend confessed to Mote that his wife was seriously ill. The friend asked if Mote would come to pray for his wife. Mote not only prayed for the woman, but he also sang his newly written song with her and her husband. The dying woman was noticeably moved and strengthened by the message of the song. Mote was so encouraged by the response that he sent the song to a publisher. More than 175 years later, we are still singing, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
There’s a line in that song worth noting particularly: “In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.” Imagine this dying woman being reminded of her soul’s anchor in Christ while the storms of disease raged through her body and the gale of death assaulted her thoughts and soul! No wonder she was encouraged by the song. Her soul had an anchor that would hold even through disease and death.
But here’s another thought that is even more wonderful. The song points out that the anchor for our souls is not on the earth. We aren’t anchored down here.
Pearl Harbor is a sad and stark reminder of what happens when ships are moored to the earth. One catastrophe, one series of enemy attacks, and an entire fleet can be wiped out. In an hour and a half, over 2,400 people were killed at Pearl Harbor. Nearly half that number were on board the USS Arizona, which was anchored and had no way to escape. Because it was anchored, the Arizona was a proverbial sitting duck for the Japanese military attack that day.
Likewise, anchoring our souls to earth would prove disastrous. The hope of the soul deserves an anchor which withstands the most terrible storm. If our hopes are anchored in our abilities, they can be destroyed by disease. If our hopes are anchored in our marriages, they can be shattered by infidelity. If our hopes are moored to our money, they can be sunk instantly in a depression.
Mote’s song—taking its truth from Hebrews 6—makes clear that our hope is not on the earth. Our hope is anchored “within the veil.” Which veil? Hebrews 6 is speaking of the veil of the Temple. The Temple is pictured as the dwelling place of God. The innermost portion of the Temple—the part behind the veil—was off limits even for the Jews. A Holy God dwelled there, and no one could see God and live (Exodus 33:20). God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16). Hebrews 12 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” Think of it—a consuming fire.
No idiot with half a brain would get close to an all-consuming fire! Anyone who has ever built a giant bonfire knows how close you can and cannot get to the heat. How can a soul get to the center of the fire? The answer is Christ, the solid rock.
Hebrews 6 talks about how Jesus (not an idiot!) went directly behind the veil—right into the heart of the consuming fire—as a “forerunner” or a “pioneer,” a trailblazer paving the way for our arrival. The forerunner idea means that he went first so that we could follow. To put it a different way, Jesus went into the holy fire behind the veil with our soul-anchors attached to him. Like a tether-ball on a string, our souls are attached to Christ and can’t fall away from him. Our souls are anchored to Christ who is seated on God’s throne within the veil.
Where the ships at Pearl Harbor were anchored below, our souls are said to be anchored above, where Christ is. And because they are anchored above, our anchors must hold through every high and stormy gale. Our souls are blessed indeed with an anchor that holds. The writer of Hebrews says that God promised this blessing to us so that “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (6:18). Because you are so blessed, you can and will hold fast to the hope set before you.
One final thought comes to mind. Jesus went before us to secure the future that is ahead of us. He anchored our souls to Himself so that the changing tides of time would not destroy either our faith or our future. Our future is secure. It is certain. And it is good.
Maybe you remember the early story of creation. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The text says that God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden and placed a fiery angel with a flaming sword at the entrance so the first humans (and all humans afterward) could not return to paradise and eat of the tree of eternal life.
But here is the beauty of what Christ has accomplished. The blessing of a soul anchored in Christ is that Christ has walked safely passed the impenetrable security guards. Christ opened paradise and sits there securely, waiting for our arrival.
Christ is not hoping for us to arrive in paradise. He is waiting for our arrival. Our anchor is with him. So our arrival there is sure.
Maybe today would be a good day to slow down. Walk to work like Edward Mote did many years ago. And think of what a blessing it is to have your hope anchored in Christ the solid rock, who sits within the veil.