Leaners? I've been thinking about the idea that we sometimes have a tendency to get out ahead of God. His command for us in Ephesians 6 is to "stand firm" against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, yet we often run out into the battle outside the plans and timing of the one who actually can do the fighting. Impatience to see God's will for our lives unfold? Following along with the crowd? Worry nagging at your confidence and playing on your fears? Do you feel like running forward to "make something happen"? Do you feel like running away because of what HAS happened?
As a visual, imagine leaning. When we lean one way or another we can do so just a little ways, so long as we have a strong base or foundation. But we can only lean so far. If we get out ahead of the foundation, we start to lose our balance and we start to fall. If you have a crutch, you can lean a little further away from your foundation, but eventually your strength will fail or your crutch will fail and you will fall. The higher up you elevate yourself (think of a ladder), the less you can lean, the quicker you lose your balance... the further you can fall.
Interesting that in the Christian life, our leaning away from the foundation is often motivated by our lack of understanding of God's ways and our impatience with standing in God's plans/timing. Satan's game is to lure you away from the foundation and to get us leaning toward things that will leave us unbalanced and eventually lead to a fall. Some of these decisions lead to addictive behaviors and we need a crutch to help us lean out even further. Pride elevates our platform above God's and Satan will use that pride to get you to move higher and prouder than the God who saves you. When we lean on a ladder, the fall is all the more spectacular. That fall can be deadly and that's exactly what sin brings. James says it this way: "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." Death to relationship, death to opportunity, death to reputation, death to freedom. Remove the foundation and all you have is a state of living death, it's what we call hell. And all of us have tasted this on a small level.
But praise God that for every one who has fallen, the cross of Jesus restores. The cross of Jesus resurrects the broken. The empty tomb of Jesus is historical fact and it ensures that what God says he will do, he will do. Grace is freely given. Forgiveness bought and paid for by Jesus so that for every repentant "leaner", for every one who has been lured away to addictive crutches and habitual falling, could stand once again in the foundation of the God who made them, loved them, restores them... restores me! How?
Colossians 2: "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
Hosanna! God Save Us! And by God's grace through Jesus and the gift of faith freely given, he has done just that.
What are you leaning toward? What crutches do I have in my life? Where is the ground compacted from my constant falling, who heals the scraped knees and wounded hearts? This Passion season of Jesus, I pray we'll remember, we'll repent of our leanings away from Jesus and find the strength to lean into his love and mercy and life for us! That we will find personal resurrection, healing and restoration in the finished work of the Cross that Jesus did because of his great love for us.