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.
Refrain: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]
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. [Refrain]
Have you ever received sad news? Perhaps today, you are thinking about our world pandemic…a friend or loved one with an illness…the loss of your job…COVID-19 and its impact on your church.
In 1887, Professor Anthony J. Showalter received some sad news from two pupils who had lost their wives, and in his reply letter, he included Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Thus began the writing of the gospel hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”
As we read (or sing) the lyric of this hymn, there are questions we should consider:
Are we leaning on the Everlasting Arms? Do we trust in the Everlasting Arms?
The Prophet Isaiah knew of difficulties. God’s people experienced 70 years of exile in the Babylonian Empire. Yet, under God’s direction, he wrote about hope in God’s everlasting arms:
See, the Lord GOD comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule. His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him. He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries ⌊them⌋ in the fold of His ⌊garment⌋. He gently leads those that are nursing. (Isaiah 40:10-11)
Isaiah gives us reasons why we should lean on God’s everlasting arms:
They are powerful arms (10). God’s hand is strong. His arm rules us and rewards us. God rules in power and brings His reward with His power! We can lean on His everlasting arms because they never grow weak and never be overcome. Take a moment and re-read the refrain of the hymn. You are safe and secure!
They are providing arms (11a). He is the Great Shepherd who tends to His flock. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are one of His sheep! We can lean on His everlasting arms because He provides for us…even in the most difficult times. Where God guides God provides! Meditate on verses one and two of the hymn. God gives us fellowship, joy, blessings and peace when we lean on Him! He walks with us and illuminates our path!
They are protecting arms (11b-c). He gathers us. He carries us away from danger and back to the fold. Isn’t that what Jesus has done for you and me? We were wayward sinners and now we have eternal life through Jesus. In John 10, Jesus states He is the Good Shepherd and knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. Notice the last phrase of verse 11. Even the most vulnerable (nursing infants) are protected as God leads. Verse three of the hymn gets personal. It can be our declaration today. “I don’t need to dread, I don’t need to fear; I have peace through my Lord!”
So the questions need to be answered…
Are you leaning on the everlasting arms? Have you repented of your sins and asked Jesus to save you? Are you willing to trust Jesus today? Or are you trusting in a job, a health condition, or your own wisdom?
Fall into God’s everlasting arms…they will never fail you!
Lamar Morin serves as the team leader of the Leadership Development Team of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. Special thanks goes to pastor Jack Andrews for the outline.