Thankful Thursday {Leaning}

It's been a stormy week here.  Stormy weather-wise, and stormy heart-wise.  Although the storms outside haven't been nearly as bad as originally predicted, the inner storms have been worse than I could have imagined.  The "storms of life", as Bro. Kent calls them, are back with a vengeance.

Any time the weather gets really bad, my mind tends to flood with memories of past storms.  The one when I was in the 5th grade when we saw the funnel dangling in the sky outside our living room window (as we were running for cover).  The one when Billy and I were first married, and sound asleep in our second floor apartment, when the lady who lived downstairs ran through the complex screaming, "There's a tornado coming, there's a tornado coming!"  She was a very loud lady by nature, a characteristic we were quite thankful for that night as we raced the few blocks to my mom's house to huddle in her neighbors' storm shelter.  A good bit of our town and the next town over were leveled that night.  Or the one just a few years ago when "the" hailstorm took out our entire front window, leaving our living room full of glass, water, and quarter-sized hail. 

Similarly, when the storms of life begin stirring, I tend to be transported back to times in my life I'd rather not re-visit.  When I focus on what God taught me through those times...on His faithfulness and sovereignty and goodness through it all...that's a good thing.  When I let the dark memories and vivid emotions of those days settle in my mind...even for a few minutes...not so good.

God is always faithful to provide exactly what I need during those times, though, through His Word, the support and prayers of His people (along with "just the right words" at times), printed words, and so often, music.  This week He has done that yet again, from all directions. 

One of the biggest blessings this week has been one of those "God's perfect timing" things that still amaze me.  A friend and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Guy Penrod's new "Hymns" cd.  (Backstory on Guy Penrod here. :))  The release date for the "Hymns" CD is  March 27.  But...my friend went to a concert earlier this month and discovered that the CD was due to be released early in Cracker Barrel restaurants.  She was given an incorrect date...twice...and thus made two wasted trips to the closest Cracker Barrel (in a nearby town) in hopes of buying a copy (or two...or more...:))  But the third time...this past Monday...was apparently the charm, and she was able to (finally) obtain the long-awaited CD.  

Being the wonderful friend that she is <*smile*>, she drove immediately (well, maybe not immediately, but pretty close to it :)) to my house to bring me a CD.  She had already been playing hers in the van, and it was obvious by her excitement that all the trouble had been worth it.  We had agreed earlier on the phone that it had been a good day...she had gotten the CDs, and I had gotten a much-needed doctor's appointment for one of our children with much less difficulty than I had anticipated.  In the meantime, though, the storm that had started Sunday morning had been brewing and was about to explode. 

In the chaos of the day, I heard snatches of the CD here and there, thinking every time I became aware of the words and music playing in the background that it was "just what I needed" at that moment.  Not until much later that evening was I able to sit and truly soak in the beautiful hymn arrangements with their powerful, truth-filled lyrics.  

My friend and I have laughed that whatever song we happen to be listening to from the disk at the time is our "favorite"...until the next one. :)  "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", "He Hideth My Soul", "By and By", and the song I had anticipated most, "Does Jesus Care?"...Guy's duet with the 103-year-old George Beverly  Shea have all been balms to my heart this week. 

Tuesday night, though, I found myself sitting at my desk after everyone else had gone to bed, tears pouring down my face as I listened to Guy's beautiful voice singing these words...

    1. 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.
    2. Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
      Leaning on the everlasting arms;
      Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
      Leaning on the everlasting arms.
    3. 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.
     Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
     Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

The words to that chorus were written by Anthony J. Showalter in 1887.  While searching for a verse to share with two different young men devastated over the deaths of their wives, he found Deuteronomy 33:27:

The eternal God is your dwelling place,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms. 

He penned the words to the above chorus, and sent them to Elisha Hoffman, who then wrote the verses and published the hymn.

As I played the song over and over again Tuesday evening, and searched for the story behind the hymn, I came across this article by Clinton and Deborah Macomber.  They point out that in the verse above, the picture is of a shepherd carrying a sheep...His arms not just  "around us, supporting us in times of trouble, but underneath us, carrying us in hard times."

I was reminded of one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:11, to which I've clung through several major life storms:

He tends His flock like a shepherd:   He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart;    He gently leads those that have young. 

There is no storm that comes as a surprise to God.  I am so thankful for His reminder this week that His faithfulness is sure, and His timing is always perfect.

It's been a while since I've participated in Thankful Thursday.   Be sure to visit Laurie's blog to see what others are thankful for today.


Denise said...

Enjoyed this post.

ღ soraya ღ said...

nice post thanks for sharing...blessings soraya

Ms. Kathleen said...

Amazing how God can make all our fear and tears go away with praises. Have a wonderful weekend.

t marie said...

Loved it. Thanks for sharing your heart.

JuJu said...

Beautiful and very true I love the verses you refer to. God is so good ! We can't understand why the storms are so terrible but knowing Jesus
Makes us able to go on with peace and grace that is brand new each morning"