That song, by Bill Withers, captures something that is important, I think, in our spiritual journey. There are times when we lean on others. And times when they lean on us. It is just the nature of the beast. But even more so, it is something that God desires for us in God’s great plan of salvation. Are you a natural leaner? Or does that come only with great difficulty?
In that first reading we hear that interesting story of Moses and the battle with the Ameleks. But before I go any further about that, I ask you to hold your arms straight out in that gesture of praying – hands facing upward toward the heavens. Hold them in that position as long as you can. As long as you can…
As long as Moses had his hands raised, in this gesture of supplication – the Israelites had the better of the battle. And when his arms grew tired, and they drooped, it did not go well. Perched on the hillside, holding the staff which split the Red Sea in two, that symbol would be an obvious sign that the same God was with them in the battle. (arms tired yet?) He knows he has to hold his hands up, to let people know that the strength for this war comes from God, and God alone. And so he leans on Aaron and Hur. He relies upon their support, their strength to get through the battle. Moses was a leaner.
In an interesting side note – you cannot find any mentions of the Ameleks in any history book (save the Bible which is not a history book per se). Perhaps it was a real battle. We won’t know, at least on this side of eternity. (How are those arms doing?) Perhaps, though, “Amelek” is a rather a symbol of all that challenges us on our spiritual journeys home to God. The battle with Amelek stands for all that must be faced and defeated and conquered. And it is a battle that is longer than our strength. Like Moses, the Israelite people had to learn to lean on one another and lean on God to see the journey through. And like Moses, we have to be willing to ask for the help we need to see the journey through. To let our Aaron’s and Hur’s strengthen us and hold up our arms when our faith is struggling. [drop arms now.]
This is why Jesus formed a church, and not a group of rugged individuals. It is good for us to lean on folks at time. It is good for us to be leaned upon. It is almost hardwired within us.
And so, this week, ask yourself, where do I need to do a little leaning – in the area of homework, the arena of relationships, or even with a looming ‘life’ decision about what to do after college, or after this relationship? Then seek out a friend, or a favorite Newman Center staff person and have a heart to heat about what’s going on.
And, from whom can you be the one leaned upon? Do a little proactive question asking about a roommate’s week – any tests, difficult meetings, etc, that they need some help and prayer about? Let the answers to those questions give you some insight into how you might love them better.
Because when it is all said and done, (Sing) “We all need somebody, to lean on.”