Lessons From a Summer Storm

Dog friend Hannah is nodding off while sitting upright. She is exhausted from following me everywhere I have gone during this thunderstorm that has now been going on for 8 hours. If the thunder doesn’t stop soon she may pass out. I have petter’s cramp from trying to comfort her during the storm. I feel like this is my payback for Hannah’s unbridled adulation when I have accomplished great things like coming home or waking up.

Whenever I came to a stop during the storm Hannah would sit next to me. And then she would lean in with most of her weight against me for extra assurance and comfort. I remembered part of the chorus from an old hymn we used to sing when I was a kid in church.  

“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms”.

I am not sure that Hannah felt secure but she did feel a bit safer leaning into me, her provider and master. I thought that her simple, instinctive desire was a good example for how I should react to life’s storms. I looked up the lyrics for the rest of the hymn.

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.

The song is based on Deuteronomy 33:27.

The eternal God is your refuge,
      and his everlasting arms are under you.

I have learned a lot in the past five years about the concept of leaning on God and trusting that He is enough. I knew the promises of God in Scripture. But I am just now learning how to trust the promises in Scripture. As my oft quoted friends at Truefaced say:

Knowing truth doesn’t transform you.
Trusting truth transforms you.

It only took me thirty-eight years of stumbling faith to begin to understand this. I know. I am a quick study. And I used to make fun of Moses for wandering forty years in the desert. Sorry Mo. I am continuing the slow process of learning to trust God instead of relying on my abilities. Hannah gave me a simple illustration today of what it looks like to lean on your master for comfort. Paul writes about the intimate relationship we can experience with God.

Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.  (Romans 8:15–16, NLT)

Abba is the Aramaic word for father. A comparable modern translation would be a child saying Papa. The combination of Abba and Father denotes both intimacy and respect. We can lean into God to receive comfort but we still respect His majesty and holiness. It is not our natural reaction to lean on His everlasting arms when the storm comes. But if you do you can find peace, joy and safety.

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.

After watching the news today I think we may get lots of chances to practice this in the days ahead. And this just in…Hannah just passed out and is snoring. My work here is finished.