Leaning

Abide is an old English word, not commonly found in my New International Version of the Bible. As I began to research this word, the meaning, and the references I discovered an interesting fact. Abide, is found 35 times in the New Testament of the New King James Version of the Bible. Of the 35 scriptures listed in the NT, the John wrote abide 32 times. Obviously abide was a favorite term for John to use it so many times in the book of John, 1 John, and 2 John. I began to wonder, what was it about the word abide and Jesus that made John write about it so much?

My brain began to spin off into a different direction. I want to learn more about the word abide, but first I need to learn more about the author who used this word so much. Just off the top of my head here’s what I know about John:

He was one of Jesus closest 3 friends (the inner three: Peter, James & John).

He was perhaps the youngest of all the disciples.

He was banned to the Greek island of Patmos.

He was shown the future and wrote the book of Revelation.

He understood the importance of solitude and quiet time.

He refers to himself as “The disciple whom Jesus loves” in John 13:23.

I turned in my Bible and read John 13:23-25. Let me set up the story for you. Jesus and his twelve disciples have just finished eating and they were reclining at the dinner table. (At my home this would be the time to serve and dessert). Jesus explains that soon one of them will betray him. John, the disciple whom Jesus’ loves is reclining next to Jesus. When prompted by Peter to ask which disciple will betray him he ….“Leaning back against Jesus, he asked…” John 13:25.

Recently, I sat around a kitchen table with three friends. As we savored our coffee and dessert I found myself leaning towards the table. I wanted my friends to know I was listening as they shared what’s been going on in their life over the Summer.

As my friends shared their stories I thought about John reclining at the table with Jesus. Consider this, John talked about abiding in God more than anyone else in the Bible. John also physically aligned himself to recline or lean on Jesus. The posture of leaning on someone represents a trust, a dependency, and a friendship. To lean in or to lean against someone is an illustration that you want to hear what they have to say. I find John’s approach to Jesus interesting. Typically when I have a important question to ask I find myself sitting up straight, squaring my shoulders, or even standing to ask the question. But look again at John’s posture: “Leaning back against Jesus, he asked.” John 13:25. The image of a Father holding a child comes to mind. I imagine as John rested against Jesus, that Christ placed a reassuring arm around him. This posture reminds me that when I have a question to ask God, I need to lean to him first, then ask!

While praying whether to share this with my Red Chair friends, God placed an old hymn in my mind “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” This song was written in 1887 by Showalter and Hoffman in response to a loved ones death. This song was inspired by Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”



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.

Refrain: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

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

Refrain: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning, leaning, 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.

God confirmed I was to share this with you when a friend left me a message with the following poem written my an anonymous writer.

Lean Hard

Child of My love, lean hard, And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;

I know thy burden, child, I shaped it; Poised it in My own hand, made no proportion In its weight to thine unaided strength;

For even as I laid it on, I said I shall be near, and while she (he) leans on Me,

This burden shall be Mine, not hers (his); So shall I keep My child within the circling Arms of My own love.

Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a Shoulder which upholds the government of worlds. Yet closer come; thou art not near enough;

I would embrace thy care so I might feel My Child reposing on my breast.

Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not then; But, loving Me, Lean Hard.

~April

May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

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