leaning on the everlasting arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

We closed our worship service at my church this morning with this old hymn. It was the fitting closing to a sermon on Deuteronomy 33: a series of final blessings Moses gives to the Israelites, tribe by tribe, which ends with these verses: “There is none like God, O Jeshurun [a term for the Israelites], who rides through the heaves to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” Noah Huss, a seminary student, was preaching this morning and one thought in particular stood out to me. He highlighted the idea that we, like Israel, although held secure by our God’s everlasting and strong arms, continually stray after idols and other things which ARE NOT God. The irony is that we are held by God and yet we often anxiously ask Him for new idols to which we cling desperately … as if what we’re holding is better and more powerful than the ONE who holds us. We forget where we are.

And so then my prayers begin to look something like the following:

“God, please work out my schedule today so that I can do what I want to do (and am planning to do) when I want to do it. Don’t let me be interrupted.”

“Lord, would you heal this terrible cold I have? Quickly? And keep me from getting any more colds this winter?”

“Father, would you provide more money for us? So that we can dress in nicer clothes and drive shiny new cars and be able to buy a home?”

“God, please keep trouble and suffering away from me. Will you please deliver me from the current troubling situation? And give me strength so that I can think that I did this on my own?”

Can you relate? Perhaps not to how obvious those examples are … and rarely do my prayers actually sound this obviously idolatrous. But if I’m honest, this is what’s often in my heart. NOT that God doesn’t care about every detail of my life, like the fact that I’m fighting a cold or that we would like to live in an apartment with 2 bedrooms one day, but His heart desire is that I would want HIM more than I want any of these things or comforts. And that my prayers would begin with resting in Him. Realizing I have what makes me most secure already — that I have true comfort and eternal treasures.

Where do you struggle? What do you run to the most? And what helps you to remember your secure place in the arms of our Father God?

For those of you “reading” to whom this concept seems quite strange, I hope and pray that you will one day know the security of this God-embrace I’m discussing. It’s only possible as our brokenness of sin that separates us from God is restored through the saving work of Christ on the cross. And, oh, what true security and comfort is found in God’s embrace to us in Christ! It is a wonder that we who know its comfort struggle so …

 

2 thoughts on “leaning on the everlasting arms

  1. I came across your blog accidently, but found several items of interest. First, I think the seminary student you refer to, Noah Huss, is a friend of mine. Assuming that is the case, I’ve forwarded your comments to him as an encouragement for him to continue to contend for the faith. It isn’t very often a pastor can see in such a concrete and sincere way how one of their messages touches someone.

    The second was your blog on the statues along Kelly Drive. I’ve literally passed those statues hundreds of times in my life and never knew a tribute to pastors stood there. Thank you for pointing it out!

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