As a young child, I would lie in bed at my grandparents’ house, listening to the sounds of the television downstairs and looking at the pictures on the wall. One was a picture of a woman with wavy reddish hair in a nightdress clinging to a stone cross in the middle of the raging sea. Pieces of a boat drifted around her and the waves threatened to drag her back into the water, but her eyes were fixed on the cross and she held on with all her might.
At the time, I really didn’t understand the meaning behind the picture, and I remember thinking about it as I drifted off to sleep. I wondered why the woman was hanging so tightly to the cross and why she didn’t let go and just grab one of the pieces of wood floating around her. Holding on looked very difficult.
As years passed and I encountered some of my own crises of faith, the picture began to have more meaning for me. During those times, I tried holding on to various other things that did all right at keeping me afloat, but my life had no direction or purpose. I realized that holding on to God—especially when it’s hard to do—is really the most important thing.
There’s another deeper meaning to that picture that struck me when I saw it again years later: Most of the painting was dark, with the exception of one ray of light that shone directly on the cross. I realized that was another reason why the woman was holding on to the cross rather than grabbing a piece of wood and floating away. She could have drifted around in the darkness, but she wanted to stay in the light.
As we enter the new year and face a world filled with unknown troubles, it can be quite frightening. We have only one solid place in the middle of the storm, and one light in the darkness. Disaster, danger, and death may be all around, but God is my light and my salvation.1 He is the strength of my life and will help me hold on.