The Anchor of Hope – guest post by Melissa Whittaker

unnamed“I’m wanting everyone to make a small object that expresses something about love for Jesus and the church.”

That was Doug’s request.  Along with our Christmas tradition of writing down an impossible prayer request and giving a special Christmas offering, he wanted us to make something.

Be creative. Do art and crafts.

Ugh!  That would have been my natural reaction.  I’m not a very creative person. I’m not a think outside the box person.  I love boxes.  I’m quite happy finding the appropriate boxes and putting the right things in them.  If I could organize my entire life in the boxes of an Excel spreadsheet, I would.  In fact, a few years ago, I filled my closet shelves with uniform black and white photo boxes to store the odds and ends of candles, flashlights, batteries, picture hangers, bottles of glue, and shoe polish that were stacked in there.  I put matching labels on all the boxes.  It was a thing of beauty.  I would open the door and just stand there, gazing at the glorious order and symmetry. I was quite hopeful that it would stay that way.

But it did not stay that way. And neither did my life.

The last ten years have not been a closet full of neatly stacked boxes.  Those years have been a series of upturned boxes, a shambles of chaotic seemingly senseless events. The most recent, traumatic and shattering event was the death of our twenty-two year old son, Thomas.  As if a tornado had come through, my Comfort Box and Theology Box and “How the world should work” Box were thrown high in the air, the contents scattered everywhere.

Since we lost Thomas, I haven’t been able to put much back in those boxes. There is no box for “Why did this happen?” or “Can we have a do over?”

God is not a “box person.” He doesn’t give nice answers that fit in simple categories. As much as I wish he would, he doesn’t.  Instead, he gives himself.  He gives a baby in a manger and a suffering servant on a cross and a risen Lord who conquers death.  He gives Jesus to anchor my soul and remind me of the hope of heaven.

He gives me a church that welcomes me as I am, acknowledges that things are not okay, and reminds me to hope in Jesus.

That is why when Doug asked us to make something, I did not say “Ugh!”

I took a cardboard anchor and covered it in pieces of the City Pres bulletin, bits of hymns and scriptures and confessions, that every week remind me that in the midst of the storm, Jesus is my hope and anchor.

Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” unnamed-1