“Throw out the anchor! We have lost power!” My dad shouted from the wheel of the houseboat.

My siblings and I sat in a line on the cushioned starboard benches, watching wide-eyed as Manuela, sweet nanny to all five of us Martin kids, scurried over to grab hold of the anchor. It was lying on the side of the boat, right where the houseboat instructor said it would be. Thank God for that anchor, right?

Our voyage started out well enough. We had enjoyed our first hours that afternoon on the rented houseboat, cruising down the Sacramento River. It was absolutely wonderful. I can still smell the fresh, crisp air just thinking about it! Add to that the promise of a fun, relaxing weekend and you have a recipe for pure bliss.

After finishing lunch, we got the galley cleaned and back in top ship-shape. All was well. We were playing in the water—Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn style, when suddenly and without warning, the engine died!

My dad (who was in the Navy during World War II) made the perfect Captain. He never lost his cool when he was at the wheel, not even once! But…this wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?

Looking back, this was one of the few times I can remember feeling frightened. There we were on this big floating box, at the mercy of the wind and tide, headed for who knows where. Are there any waterfalls ahead? What if we never find our way home? What if we have to swim all the way back? Such thoughts that can run through a young girl’s mind! Every minute that passed felt like an eternity.

Dad tried several times to start the motor, but nothing seemed to work. We were helplessly drifting farther and farther away. It was quite the sight, really. Five anxious kids, one nanny, my eighty-year-old grandmother, Father Benedict the Italian parish priest, and my hero—our handsome captain—my father. Together. Floating away to nowhere.

Dad’s efforts weren’t enough. Father Ben’s prayers weren’t enough. Five Martin children sitting in silence wasn’t enough. We were still drifting out of control. That’s when Manuela bolted for the anchor and heaved it overboard.

Three cheers for Manuela! Hip-Hip-Hooray! The anchor splashed in as the rope unwound itself, whipping and whirring in double-time while we watched. We fully expected the line would tug us to a halt and the anchor would hold until help could arrive. But there was one very significant problem. Someone forgot to tie down the anchor.

Yikes. Yes—we needed an anchor. Yes—we had an anchor. Yes—we threw out the anchor. Only to see the anchor, along with the end of the rope, disappear beneath the water.

Thankfully, the Sacramento River is not like running the rapids in a raft. So, we drifted and drifted aimlessly wherever the current took us, until the houseboat caught itself in shallow water on a sandy bank.

We were stuck for the night. Early next morning, I remember waking up to see my grandma standing at a severe slant, trying to keep her balance on the lopsided deck. The tide had gone out, leaving one end of the boat caught on the reeds and the other end tipping down into the water.

No, this wasn’t a life-threatening situation, but it does provide a picture of what the Christian life can be like when we haven’t been tied down and secured to the Word of God.

We can drift along life’s river thinking everything is fine and we’re in control. We have blue skies and calm water. Yet we have no guarantee what the next day will bring. Sooner or later, we are going to need that anchor. Better be sure that it’s tied down.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

“It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf ” (Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV).

Is it any wonder that the anchor became a symbol for the Christians in Rome during the time of persecution? Epitaphs on tombs of believers dating back to the first century were etched with anchors and messages of hope.

I can see dark clouds building on the horizon and winds beginning to blow. I smell the rain, musty and heavy with warning in the air. Time is of the essence.

Tie that anchor down, girlfriend.

You will only be secure if you have made it secure.

Tie down your heart and your home with the firm and unshakeable truth of the gospel. This next time may not just be a spring shower. Take shelter. Tug on that anchor line. Be certain that its tied down securely…and peace be with you.

How you deal with small trials is a very good indication of where your faith lies. Where is your ultimate hope?

Breathe in His Word like oxygen. Breathe in its power. Breathe in Christ’s life in the small ways that test you.  We have this anchor for our soul, firm and secure.  Secure. Now that is a great word, isn’t it?