“What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms....” The words of this song, and many others from my days growing up in the Church of God are indelibly etched in my memory. Unfortunately, I have caught myself singing this and many other songs down through the years, without properly appreciating the meaning of the lyrics.
A few days ago, during my devotional time with the Lord, the Holy Spirit confronted me with this pointed question, “What are you really leaning on?” Now I know how any of us should and I am sure would answer that question. However, saying “I’m leaning on The Lord” and actually doing it may be entirely different.
As ministers of the gospel, we are confronted with many challenging situations and difficult questions, as we try to love and lead people. I learned a long time ago to never say “I’ve seen it all.” Because as soon as you say it, the Lord will bring a fresh challenge into your life that bears little resemblance to anything in your memory bank.
We have many resources to draw on when trying to address the increasingly complex issues of ministry. Past experience can certainly be helpful. Education is a well we draw from that provides insight. The books, DVDs, and CDs on our shelves get pulled out as we look for answers. The internet gets searched and colleagues get called and texted for information and support. Now we all know, the Lord uses all these things to help us in ministry. But we also know, that many times it is just not enough.
The problem is that the older and more experienced we become, the easier it is to yield to the subtle temptation to lean on all these resources that we have accumulated in our lives and forget that we are ultimately dependent on the Lord. When we give into this temptation, we can quickly run out of gas, and in the words of Wayne Cordeiro, we find ourselves “leading on empty.” I don’t know about you, but I know what it is to “drive on fumes.” When this starts happening, fellowship with our Father suffers and the divine joy He offers is replaced with our own fleshly striving.
Proverbs 3:5-6 offers the prescription we need. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” It just might be time to dig out the old red-backed Church Hymnal and turn to page 359 and learn how to lean again.