Since I’ve been old enough to walk my family has taken summer vacations to Silver Dollar City. Every time we maneuver through the Ozark mountains and arrive at the park, we somehow find our way to the one attraction that never gets old. Grandfather’s Mansion. Have you been there? It is a place full of funny mirrors, crooked floors and upside down rooms. In parts of the “mansion” you can almost lean at forty-five degree angle and not fall. No matter how many times I’ve done it, it is always such an unusual sensation leaning further than what is natural.
Learning to lean further than what is natural is what the life of faith is all about. Leaning is supernatural and can be scary. However we must learn to lean if we want to walk with God. One of my favorite verses of the Bible comes from the book of Proverbs, I think primarily because I heard my grandfather (Jim Spencer) quoting it over and over as He would speak life into me as a young man.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make straight your paths.”
In this passage we see the Author giving us several insights on faith which I define as: “Learning How To Lean On His Leadership.”
1. LEANING is a heart issue. The Lord will not be satisfied with partial trust anymore than a husband would be satisfied with his bride only being 80% devoted to him. Jesus is preparing a bride that will have an “with all our heart” reality about his or her life. Therefore, we must not trust only what we can see. Many times what we see with our physical eyes can be deceptive. Paul prays that the “eyes of our understanding” would be enlightened so that we would know our future, our value and our ability. There is a battle for our hearts, even today. The enemy is after your heart, which is the seat of your emotions and your energy. Whatever you love you will eventually trust. Whatever we have affinity towards, we begin to lean that direction. Our hearts were created to love and to lean. The real question is what do we love?
2. LEANING is learned. There seems to be a cycle to this whole trust thing. I have learned that trust is built over time. Each of us must develop our own personal history with God if we are to fulfill our God-given destiny. This will require us leaning fully into His weight and trusting Him to carry us. “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved,” (Song of Solomon 8:5). When we first begin to acknowledge him in a difficult situation and see him come through for us in a way that is truly amazing, it gives us a personal history and confidence in His words and His ways. He doesn’t always do it the way we would like, but nevertheless, His name is glorified in the answer. We can testify after the test that truly, “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” If you haven’t already, check out the song by Rick Pino called “Leaning On My Beloved.”
3. LEANING is acknowledging Him. When we acknowledge someone’s presence we are honoring their reality and their worth. In Lima where I live, it’s common for people to walk right past you without ever breaking even a hint of a smile. If you’re from the South like me, you know this would never happen where we come from. In the South, you acknowledge everyone you see at the grocery story, at the game, at the park, EVERYONE. Even if you don’t like em. You still give em a smirk. It’s the culture to acknowledge people in the South. On the contrary, when we acknowledge God, we are honoring His reality and His worth. We are in fact brining Him into the moments that seem common in our lives. That’s why the author says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” God wants to be a part of “all our ways” not just our Sunday ways or our Wednesday ways. Leaning is about trusting Him to give you the wisdom you need in that business deal, the energy you need in that parenting situation or the patience you need in that difficult deal. God knows, but he’s waiting to be acknowledged so that as the text says, He can “make your paths straight.” When we discover God’s heart to “make our paths straight” then we will have the confidence to lean again and again further and further into His leadership.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Leaning is not and probably never will be natural. However, it is part of the journey to learn this art called leaning and let God show us his trustworthiness. He will never let us down. I love the old familiar song by Bill Withers that says: “Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.” This is a good picture of what God wants to do for us. Imagine him singing those words over you today. Let the full reality sink in that God wants to be your most faithful friend. Go ahead LEAN IN.