THE STURDY SUPPORT
By Hugh Farquhar
The Psalm Reading in the Lectionary this week is Psalm 62:5-12.
Those of you who know me will not be surprised to learn that I wasn’t one to get into trouble at school. I was generally quiet and was never a discipline problem for any teacher. But once in Grade Nine I got scolded by a teacher. I was leaning against the wall in the school hallway. This teacher did not approve of leaning. I guess she thought it looked slovenly or was bad for one’s posture. It was her custom to address male students by their last name, so when she caught me leaning in the school hallway she said loudly and sharply, “Farquhar, no leaning!”
No leaning may have been appropriate guidance in that context, but it’s not appropriate guidance in the context of our human and faith journey. Yet it’s guidance we sometimes get or it’s an unwritten understanding in some segments of our culture that we should be self-sufficient, independent, and strong enough not to need to lean on anyone. Sometimes that attitude has its place; it helps us to be survivors. But at other times, it’s harmful because it consigns people to walking a lonely road.
I love the images of God given to us in today’s Psalm: rock and fortress. “The Holy One is my rock . . . my fortress . . . my mighty rock.”
This Psalm conveys the message that God is One on whom we can lean when the limbs of our lives are weak. I take that last phrase from a prayer by Joyce Rupp: “Thank you for being the sturdy support when the limbs of my life are weak.”
It’s one of the primary blessings of faith to know that we can lean on God.
When the limbs of my life are physically weak, I get a cane or a walker to lean on so that I’m not totally immobilized. When the limbs of my life are spiritually weakened, I lean on God to help me walk on and keep going.
Even Jesus leaned on God. The first Chapter of Mark’s Gospel shows us Jesus besieged by people wanting to be healed. From every direction they came with their hurts, cries, and requests. The verse following this description reads: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” What was he doing? He was leaning! Leaning on the mighty Rock on whom he depended for strength and courage.
As the years have unfolded, I have faced some challenges of my own, both in life and ministry. During those times I have had a sense of leaning on the Holy One . . . “leaning on the everlasting arms” . . . “the rock of my strength”. . . and am thankful for that sturdy support.
It’s a wonderful thing to know that in God’s school of life, leaning is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
Hugh Farquhar is Minister Emeritus at St. Paul’s United Church, Riverview, NB and an ardent student of the Scriptures who seeks to transform Word into the living Word.