On the Forth of July this year tragedy struck on the Ohio River.
The evening started out in a traditional, celebratory fashion. Nine family and friends headed out on their pontoon boat into the familiar waters of the Ohio River to watch the Independence Day fireworks show. But they never did get to see the sky light up in a dazzling light display. The excitement, and horror, of their night came before a single a single firecracker was lit.
The nine companions were enjoying the river and the beautiful July fourth evening when a rushing current slammed into their boat, sending it into the side of a barge. Amazingly, three children were able to grab onto the barge and even pull one of the adults from the wreckage but the remaining five were no where to be seen.
Rescue crews rushed to the scene in an effort to find and save the missing. It didn't take long for those hopes to be dashed. Two lifeless bodies were pulled from the wreckage while the other three were no where to be found. Yesterday a third body was discovered.
The tragedy that befell that family is beyond words. On an evening anticipated to be relaxing and carefree, their lives were turned upside down. With the whipping of a wave and crashing of a current that little boat, swaying calmly on the placid waters, was dealt a deadly blow. Without an anchor to keep the boat firmly secured and stayed, it didn't stand a chance against the brute force of the waters ferocity.
In all stories, even those that end in tragic death, there seems to always be a lesson for life and how to live it. As I read about the way in which this family was torn apart, so unassumingly and out-of-the-blue, I was reminded at just how sudden trials often appear in our lives. One day we are floating along in our little personal water-craft of a body and soul and then bam! A wave hits us and threatens to send us into a barge-sized catastrophe.
The only way to keep our boat upright and out of harms way is to have an anchor. And there is only one anchor that is guaranteed to withstand every storm - every current, wave, gust of wind and bolt of lightening. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Hebrews 6:19 says that, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." The fact of the sea and of life is that storms will come. That is a guarantee. But not every boat on the waters will capsize when the rains, winds and waves persist. Some boats, some souls, will withstand the onslaught because they have anchors firmly planted in God.
As long as our anchor has found its footing in the Lord we don't need to fear what trials might suddenly appear in our lives. We know that no matter how desperate our situation might appear, our mainstay is unshakable. We may feel swayed and we may get wet, but we will be secure when we fasten ourselves to Christ and never let go.
For the surviving family members of the Ohio River pontoon boat accident my prayer is that they have an anchor for their souls keeping and staying them in this trial. This storm is bound to cause grief and pain but it does not need to cause their hope to sink or their faith to drown in the "whys" and "ifs" of this life. They can choose to hold onto the promises of God and the eternal life that is to come where heartache and mourning will be put to rest in the arms of the everlasting God. This life is but a breath, but it is a breath that we can take peacefully knowing that the anchor we have in Christ will carry us on, through the storm and into the glory of God's perfect Kingdom.