Hebrews 4. Chapter 37.
Each morning, my husband and I read together from our pile of devotionals and then hold hands and pray. Our morning rituals relieve anxiety, for God will work it all out according to his will, which will be revealed with time. He has done this throughout history.
On some mornings, we hear words that uplift us and give us the courage to get through our day, to continue to trust our burgeoning family to the Lord, or to hand over to God once again our burdens and cares.
One devotional is based on Proverbs, one provides a historical journey through church history, which we move through in chronological order, contrary to the order in which the devotional was written. History makes better sense when read and studied in the order in which it happened.
A third is our go-to devotional for times of calamity, a source we’ve used since 1997-98, two extremely hard years for us. We don’t agree with the few posts that portray a legalist outlook, but those are rare. For the most part, this devotional is a perennial favorite, especially during hard times.
On September 12, my husband read me a post from our favorite. This passage opened the devotion for that day:
“Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?” (Song of Songs 8:5).
The missionary who authored the following attended a prayer meeting in a southern church where one of the men thanked the Lord for the many blessings he had received and then ended with this unusual request of God.
“And, O Lord, support us! Yes, support us on every leaning side!”
The words of this man’s prayer produced an epiphany, a new insight for the author, L.B. Cowman, a missionary associate of Oswald Chambers. This simple and to-the-point prayer caused her to see the Lord Jesus in a new way, as the “Great Supporter” of believers. For, doesn’t the Lord always walk alongside every believer? And, don’t we all have leaning sides?
As our nearest and dearest companion, the Lord Jesus is always “ready to extend His mighty arm to steady the weak on ‘every leaning side’.” The impact of this epiphany inspired L.B. Cowman to pen this poem:
“Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of your care;
I know your burden, child. I shaped it;
Balanced it in Mine Own hand; made no proportion
In its weight to your unaided strength,
For even as I laid it on, I said,
‘I will be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden will be Mine, not hers;
So will I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My Own Love.’ Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder that upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come:
You are not near enough. I would embrace your care;
So I might feel My child reclining on My breast.
You Love Me, I know. So then do not doubt;
But loving Me, lean hard.”
This year, I’ve felt as if all my sides are leaning. I need the Lord’s strong arm to steady me on every leaning side. I need to lean hard against him.
My health. Desperately missing my out-of-town kids and grandkids. Missing my beloved parents and sisters. All of our family goings on and hardships. The pain and suffering of my many Black friends, who are so dear. The economy. The outcome of the election no matter who wins. The pandemic.
So many leaning sides.
When we lean upon Christ, we find our rest and our strength. In him, we find the answers to our whys, even when that answer is more of him. In his compassion as our high priest, we are blessed with sympathy and mercy.When we lean on Christ, we find our rest and our strength. We find the answers to our whys, even when that answer is more of him. In his compassion as our high priest, we are blessed with sympathy and mercy. Click To Tweet
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11 ESV).
We have many leaning sides, but we also have rest, for we are carefully and tenderly balanced and upheld by God’s own hand. He longs for us to collapse against him, to lean hard upon him, to give more of our burdens to him, and to allow him to bear the weight of our struggles and cares, for our God is strong and able and worthy of our trust.
Our God is The Great Supporter.God longs for us to collapse against him, to lean hard upon him, to give more of our burdens to him, and to allow him to bear the weight of our struggles and cares. Our God is strong, able, and worthy of our trust. Click To Tweet
Now only that, but his Word is sure, preserved through millenia by the tender care of generation after generation of believing scribes and copyists. The power and the piercing of God’s Word testifies to us that it is living. It is not a dead tome, but the vehicle through which the Holy Spirit speaks to us, convicts us, woos us, and puts us back together on every leaning side.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV).
We have a Great Supporter who pleads with us to allow him to support ALL of our stuff, ALL of our concerns and fears and worries, ALL of our health needs, ALL of our family issues. ALL of it.We have a Great Supporter who pleads with us to allow Him to support ALL of our stuff, ALL of our concerns and fears and worries, ALL of our health needs, ALL of our family issues. ALL of it. Click To Tweet
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV).
Let us draw near. Let us hold on tight to our confession of trust and faith in Messiah Jesus, for he is worthy of all our trust. He knows exactly how we feel, and so let us draw near to him with confidence, leaning hard on him.
He’s got us on every leaning side, every single one. Grace be with you.Let us hold on tight to our confession of trust and faith in Messiah Jesus, for he is worthy of all our trust. He knows exactly how we feel, and so let us draw near to him with confidence, leaning hard on him. Click To Tweet
Source of the above quotes: Streams In The Desert by L.B. Cowman, edited by James Reimann, the editor of My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition, copyright 1997 by The Zondervan Corporation. Link embedded above.
Yes, amen, every leaning side! How I love the invitation in this post, in the words of scripture shared. I love Streams in the Desert. It was given to me in a very hard season of my life.
And these words:
“Let us draw near. Let us hold on tight to our confession of trust and faith in Messiah Jesus, for he is worthy of all our trust. He knows exactly how we feel, and so let us draw near to him with confidence, leaning hard on him.” Amen!
That’s when we acquired our copy as well, Pam, during an excruciating time that involved a life flight of one child, a loss of our home, a child assaulted, a flood, another child run over, etc. — it was a dark, dark time for us. During this pandemic, we’ve had equally tragic losses.
And yet, we have access to our Savior with a simple request: “And, O Lord, support us! Yes, support us on every leaning side!” The sides are all leaning this year, and I’m so grateful for the nearness of God, no matter how much I bounce around like a ping-pong ball from one leaning side to another. Thank you for adding your kind and compassionate words, dear Pam.
How blessed we are to lean on God, in all our leaning ways. Oh, that we would lean even more. For then will we experience even more support and comfort and assurance, and God will use us even more effectively. I’m glad you can revisit this truth from time to time with your husband.
Even though we’ve worked our way through that devotional numerous times, Stephen, the Lord always has something that seems new for us right when we need it. And, each time, it’s like we’re hearing the message for the first time, because in that moment it is absolutely essential. Leaning on the Lord is a necessity! I agree with you. O, that we would lean on him even more!
Surely we need to lean on the Lord now more than ever.. at least it feels so in my lifetime!
I love this line from Song of Solomon… I’ve never noticed it before “Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?”… how much richness.. coming up dry, exhausted..from the desert. That’s how I feel lately. I need to lean more…
I love the way you fleshed out that verse, Christina! Thank you for commenting. Dry and exhausted as we come up from the desert is how so many of us are feeling right now almost eight months into this pandemic and all of the other attached difficulties we’ve gone through. These words about leaning on the Lord really spoke to me and inspired this post.
Marriage…the way it should be…
Yes! That’s so true, Terri.
AMEN Amen amen!!! I love this post. I feel so blessed to know I can lean on Jesus. It took me what felt like forever to realize this truth!
Same here, Jessica! I think I have to be strong. I think I have to try to do things in my own strength. I’m so glad that the Lord allowed so many numerous leaning sides enter my life, so that I could begin to learn the necessity of leaning on the Lord in beautiful dependence.
Yes! Yes! Lean on Him in all circumstances. He never leaves us. What a blessing to read that you and your husband share devotion time together each day. Very special.
Devotion time is such a blessing, Melissa. With my husband retired now, we have the time to sit together, focus on the Lord, and spend time in prayer. His work schedule prior to retirement had him leaving the house in the wee hours and then working long into the evening. This has indeed been a great blessing!
Melinda, one of my favorite phrases in all of Hebrews is chapter 4 from verse 14, “Let us hold fast to our confession.”
The poem, scripture, and imagery you paint with words of leaning into the Lord from EVERY side and in ALL the things is powerful! It really spoke to my heart. Love this: ” I need the Lord’s strong arm to steady me on every leaning side. I need to lean hard against him.”
Karen, I’m grateful for every hardship that taught me to lean on Jesus and that I did come to the end of myself after being one who thought I had to always be strong and who attempted to do so much in my own strength. Leaning on the Lord is such a relief after my previous self reliance. Thanks you for adding your thoughts!
Melinda, I love, LOVE the visual you share in this post. I’ve prayed and talked about leaning on the Lord. I’ve even pictured it as the photo you’ve shared of the young girl leaning into (I presume) her daddy. Such a beautiful image. But I forget that rest comes when we leaning. And when we have lots of leaning sides, we have One who is great enough for us to lean into and to find our rest in. In a crazy season, I needed this. Thank you.
I needed it, too, Jeanne! Thank you for adding your thoughts. This year has been one of the most difficult in our lives, and so the timing of this devotion was perfect. The stated reality that we have many leaning sides and that we need to lean on the Lord is powerful. The reminder of the love relationship that we have with our Savior in this passage was so touching: “Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?” (Song of Songs 8:5).
He is our rock so perfect for leaning on. Anyone else will fail us.
This was so encouraging and timely. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you!