by Pastor Chuck Winter
I grew up in California's San Joaquin Valley and our home was in the midst of a Thompson Seedless Grape vineyard. We were surrounded by what is still a favorite taste treat for me.
The Yakima Valley is a premier growing ground for all kinds of crops. But when you think of the Valley you think of fruit trees-especially apples. We enjoy the many varieties of fruit, but we also enjoy the acres of orchards when they are in bloom and when their leaves turn lovely shades of color with the advent of fall weather.
Part way into the growing season the heavily laden branches of these trees are given some help by way of props. These wooden slats provide a measure of safety to keep the branches from breaking. The braces stay in place until it's picking time. You could say the trees "lean" on the props. They depend on those crutches to protect them from "injury and loss," and to stay in one piece. As the trees get older and larger the props are an ever more important part of their lives. The truth of the matter is these props are only intended for temporary use.
Some of us feel like we need props, too. All of us do some leaning and some of us are better at it than others. Many of us lean on friends and family.
There are many who "lean" on their own intellect and abilities to get them through life. Some lean more than others.
The danger with this practice is these props may fail us. Proverbs 3:5 isn't a suggestion, it's a directive: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding." We're instructed to trust Him because even the dearest of friends may fail us. Position can be taken away. Our once keen mental abilities can be shaken or lost through illness or old age. Money will fail us. Lands will fail us. Political leaders will fail us. Church leaders may fail us. Other props, as dear and precious as we see them to be, may fail us.
The hymn-writer understood this danger and helps us see the right perspective of life lived to the fullest. My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.
Chuck Winter is pastor of the Grace Brethren Church - Sunnyside Associate Pastor of Senior Adult Ministries.