If I had really understood the song Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, I would have saved myself 7 stitches.

I was bad about leaning on things as a kid.  I have always tired out easily from standing.  Running errands and me are like fish and chips.  The only way the fish goes with the chips is if it’s dead.  That’s pretty much how I feel about running errands.  🙂

There I was, 6 years old, and helplessly held against my will in a grocery store while my mother shopped.  The misery was heavy in my kindergarten brain.  I had been good.  I had even waited like an angel for my routine pediatrician check-up, and not played with the fun toys everybody else played with at the doctor’s office because my mother said they were germy.  Surely this vacuous visit to a grocery store, complete with many shopping cart halts as my mother examined boring food in boring containers, could not be my reward.

I was in the habit of leaning in boredom, tiredom, and frustrationdom.  This was totally an “all of the above” lean.

Afterwards, I connected the lean to a Kool-Aid stand, but I just filled that in my mind because it made sense to me that a flimsy stand like that would have given way.  In actuality, we were in the totally wrong aisle for a Kool-Aid stand.  The reality is, I have no idea what I leaned on.  It is totally blurry in my mind.  I just remember it giving way and me falling.

The fall felt like a 10-second nosedive.  I do remember clearly seeing the iron bar of the bottom of the shopping car my head was planning on hitting.  I remember the feeling of total doom.  I could no more reverse the fall than I could reverse the effects of gravity.

I hit the bar and my fear changed to shock.  I didn’t know what had happened.  I was dazed.  My mother’s hand was on my head, but I couldn’t even feel it.  I couldn’t feel my head at all.  I was hovering above the cement floor as my mother carried me through the store.  I just kept hearing my mom say, “It’s all right; it’s all right.”

We got to the checkout counter (the way to the exit), and there was a chain over the aisle.  Mom tried to get someone to help her free the chain.  Nobody would.  There were customers and cashiers.  It was one of those things you just wouldn’t believe, knowing how adorable I was, but people just didn’t seem to care.  (They cared a lot more later after my grandmother wrote a letter to the grocery store.)  Anyway, my mom had to reach down to unclip the chain and that was when the blood started pouring down.

I started screaming my head off.  A waterfall of blood was cascading over my eyes.  My mom tried to get my attention, to calm me down, but it was too late.  I screamed my head off.

A cashier at last helped with the chain.  Mom got me out the door and held me on her lap as she sped across the street to my pediatrician.  That’s right–my pediatrician was just across the street, the very one I’d seen earlier that day.

I was stitched up by the time my dad got there from work.  But I didn’t feel very good about leaning anymore.  I had trusted that shelf not to give way–trusted it!–and look what it had done.  What a mean thing to do.

But if I’d only remembered the song we sung in church, I would have known better than to trust a shelf with my precious little noggin.

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. [1]

I could have saved myself 7-stitches if I’d remembered that song then, but if I’d remembered that song as a teenager and college kid, I could have saved myself years of spills.

God is the only one to lean on.  Leaning on anything else, leaning on anything else, always leads to a fall.

When we have arrogance in anything we have or can do, or anything anyone else has or can do for us, we think we don’t need God’s hand and we lean on Satan instead.  And it is without fail that Satan drops us, flat on the floor.

The mercy is when it happens in this life, and we don’t have to wait until eternity to realize it.

“Everyone who keeps on hearing these messages of mine and never puts them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and battered that house, and it collapsed, and its collapse was total.” (Jesus, Matthew 7:26-27, ISV)


[1] “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” by Elisha Hoffman, 1887.
See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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