Lean into God to navigate the road ahead
by Deacon Christine Maddux
Familiar signs of fall fill the plateau: warm sweaters, changing leaves, and touring motorcycles – many, many motorcycles. Whenever I trail a string of motorcycles along Highway 64, I feel a bit wistful. Although it has been years since I hung up my helmet, I retain the motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license “just in case.” And I as follow bikes along a serpentine mountain road, I catch myself leaning into the curves like I once did on my motorcycle. It is certainly silly looking and clearly not necessary to lean while driving an SUV! But that habit is deeply ingrained; motorcyclists learn that leaning with the bike is the only way to stay balanced around the curves and enjoy the ride.
At first it feels risky to lean, surrendering one’s instincts to the bike’s dynamics. But with practice it becomes second nature, proves to be much more secure, and yields a whole lot more fun. The same thing happens as we learn to surrender control to God’s “dynamics” and lean with Him along life’s twisting road, trusting that his way will work much better than ours, will get us where we need to go, and will be an unparalleled adventure along the way.
People throughout the ages have discovered this truth by stepping beyond their own understanding to trust God fully in big things and small, and doing what He called them to do in spite of their own instincts to the contrary. Many of them are recorded in the Bible.
For instance, although enemy forces had seized King David in Gath, he wrote, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4). And Mary, though deeply puzzled, trusted God and accepted his startling call to bear Jesus saying, “Be it done unto me according to your will” (Luke 1:38). Contrary to his veteran fisherman’s instincts, Peter put his unproductive nets back into the deep water at Jesus’ say-so and pulled in enough fish to sink his boat (Luke 5:4-7). In the throes of agony while dreading his crucifixion, Jesus himself leaned into the Father saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39, 42). God worked powerfully in all of them because they trusted Him and leaned into His way, not theirs.
And followers of Jesus have been leaning into life’s “S” curves with Him ever since, with extraordinary outcomes. When Tim Tebow’s missionary parents were advised to abort him for medical reasons, they leaned on God to see them through the pregnancy. Their robust son now uses his public platform to evangelize. When a friend of ours sensed God calling him to Jerusalem without supplying any particulars, he and his new bride leaned into that calling and relocated there; he is now a priest in the Old City with a powerful ministry to the Jews.
Though frail and sickly, when Amy Carmichael felt God’s call to foreign missions she left her native Ireland and ultimately established an orphanage in India, serving there for 55 years. Yearning to lean on God’s everlasting arms, she wrote this prayer: “My Father, you welcome me into your presence…then you invite me to lean against you…and a bolt of self-reliance in me resists. But I want to trust in you. To relax the weight of my fears and anxieties against you. To rest, to know how fully trustworthy you are…I reach for your hand, feel your firm grip…and I lean my weight against you now.” May that be our prayer, too, as we lean into God and trust Him to carry us securely through all of life’s twists and turns.
The Rev. Christine Maddux serves as a Deacon at Christ Anglican Church in Cashiers and lives in Sapphire. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the Crossroads Chronicle, October 23, 2019.