During winter the first thing I do every morning is peek through the blinds to gauge the weather for the day. Some days I am surprised by a blanket of soft white snow. The fresh snow is always breathtaking. Rarely, it seems, a bright clear sky welcomes me, the kind of winter day that calls for sledding and snowballs. Most often the view is a dirty grey all the way to the horizon: cloudy, foggy skies above and icy grey snow beneath. This kind of day makes me want to crawl back into bed.
I often let the weather decide my mood, struggling through the grey days and bouncing through the sunny, cold ones. In the middle of a particularly long stretch of miserable grey this winter, I came across this scripture: “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).
I was struck by the phrase “an anchor to the souls of men.” I am a believer. I work at nurturing the faith in my heart. But do I have the kind of hope that anchors me? Hope born of a deep and abiding faith?
If my mood can be swayed by something as simple as the weather, perhaps I need to drop my anchor a bit deeper, and lodge it more surely. The imagery in these verses is so tangible: a huge iron anchor attached to a thick, burly chain holding tight to a tiny seafaring vessel on top, buffeted on the surface by waves, storms, and wind. I want my hope to anchor my soul to the sure place where Christ is the Savior and King.
This winter has been especially bleak. Our brothers and sisters in Haiti are suffering at nearly apocalyptic proportions. The distressed economy threatens to swallow up friends and neighbors. The wars and rumors of wars churn fear and uncertainty. Without the anchor of hope, I could easily be adrift on an ocean that is especially troubled and violent.
Instead I work at making my hope tangible and hefty. I need my anchor to be strong! My morning habit has not changed. I still peek out at the weather: I need to know if I should pull on my boots or my flats. But the weather in my soul is more constant as I have renewed my small and simple efforts at coming to Christ.
I pray with clear intent, on my knees, out loud, using those moments with my Father to thank Him and hope with Him. I am careful with my scripture study, underlining causes for hope (there are so many!) and thinking about the things I’ve read during the day. I seek for evidences of hope from my Father in the small things: the Christmas amaryllis that finally blooms bright red, the loaf of bread from a friend, the warm wisdom from a neighbor, and the testimony shared by others.
Funny that the small acts of worship, the small moments of love and gratitude, can weigh so much. They make my anchor so much heavier; they make me so much more sure and steadfast. I can make it through another grey winter with this kind of hope for a better world.