A small dinghy needs a painter, not someone with a paintbrush to keep the boat looking great but a length of rope for tying it to a larger boat or to moor it. You can’t just park your boat on the water and hope it will be there when you next come back! Even ships need ropes to attach them to something immovable like the dockside. But ‘dry land’ is only relatively immovable. Mooring posts can fail, banks can give way. Some people who experience an earthquake say how deeply unsettling it is to discover that solid ground is not as solid as they had thought – if even the ground can move what is there left to moor our lives to?!
Last month, tragically, many in Beirut discovered the fragility of their world as the terrifying explosion in their port destroyed homes and businesses and flung lethal shards of glass at them. This year many have been shocked to see a new virus taking lives all over the world while our collective reaction has destroyed livelihoods, businesses and dreams in a moment, with the sad expectation that the peak of the wave of economic misery is yet to come.
And in smaller, but no less painful, ways many find that the rocks in our life – like relationships, health, and jobs – can be surprisingly wobbly. That is why the Bible has always urged us to build on a more secure foundation, to tie our boat to a more solid post, to anchor our lives on the Rock that never moves.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord for ever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) Jesus’ life was engulfed by the flood of hatred and jealousy that took him to a painful and humiliating death for us but God raised him to new life and installed him as the Commander of the Universe. Our trust in the Lord Jesus is like an unbreakable rope anchoring us forever to the fixed centre of the universe, firm and secure through any storm that might batter us, in life or death.
What’s your painter tied to?