Leaning Back | Ashley Varner

We’ve been getting a little science-y lately and so I want to get back to heart issues this week as we talk about leaning back and trusting God.

I wanted to start by sharing the words to an old hymn that says:

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

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

We’ve all heard of trust falls with someone closing their eyes and falling backward, trusting the person behind them to catch them. But instead of thinking of trust as fear and falling, I want you to start thinking about trust as learning to lean back and rest.

Leaning on Our Own Understanding

I have a really bad habit of sitting on the edge of my seat. I do it without even thinking about it.  After awhile, my back and knees start to hurt so I force myself to scoot back and sit correctly.

I’ve even fallen out of my chair in the past because I was sitting too close to the edge.

One day, I thought, “Lord, help me to lean back.” 

I was praying those words for myself physically, but God brought a verse to my mind. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord without all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

I started thinking about this idea of leaning on my own understanding. 

Leaning on your own understanding is about as silly as sitting at the edge of your chair and falling to the floor.

(Take it from a girl who knows.)

We’re only as stable as our own understanding.  And we all know how quickly our understanding can change. And how little we understand things sometimes.

The other night at dinner, my husband mentioned that after dinner, he was going outside to fix some of our sprinklers.

A few minutes later, he got up from the table to serve himself some more food, and our two year old (who is a daddy’s boy through and through) had a melt down. He thought dad was leaving him at the table to go work outside without him.

It took several minutes for us to calm him down enough to explain that dad wasn’t done eating and he would wait for baby to finish before going outside.

My son’s understanding was limited.

He was leaning on his own understanding instead of trusting the fact that his dad always waited for him to go outside.

It seems like a silly reason for a tantrum, but isn’t that sometimes what we do? When we don’t get what we want from the Lord?

Instead of trusting what we know is true about the Lord, we look at circumstances around us and begin to lean on those.

But God’s way is always better.

Leaning Back on the Lord

Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

This verse, just like the hymn we started this episode with, talks about how the ability to lean on God comes from fellowship with Him, a relationship with Him, knowing Him. 

Have you ever seen an image of the art piece “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci? It’s a beautiful work of art.

It always reminds me of the trust John had in Jesus.

John was sitting right next to Jesus during The Last Supper.  John was part of the inner circle of Jesus’s disciples (who was made up of Peter, James, and John). He got to pray near Jesus in Gethsemane, and he got to see the Transfiguration.

Jesus and John were so close that when Jesus died on the cross, when all the other disciples were hiding and afraid, and Peter was denying Jesus, John was at the foot of the cross caring for Jesus’s mother, Mary.

That’s how much John trusted Jesus.

He had to make the decision that while it would be hard, because of his love for His Savior and the commitment he had made to follow him, that trust was really the only option he could make.

You and I have to come to the point where we make that same decision.

Yes, it takes work and intentional actions from us. Yes, it takes saying no to the things of this world, but the benefits are immeasurable.

Benefits like joy, peace, and security.

So what does this look like in our world?


Leaning on God involves trusting that He will lead your husband. Trust can mean getting out of the way and leaning back, so He can step in.

If you are struggling with thoughts that your husband needs to be more of the head of the family in regards to spiritual things, then I want to encourage you to lean back.

I used to bug my husband about devotions or ask if he had read his Bible lately. Then in my prayers one day, I felt the Lord tell me to lean back. He wanted me to back off so He could do a work in my husband.

On that day, I decided that I would never again try to act in the role of my husband’s mother. And not just in spiritual devotions, but in everything. Like how he should dress, how he should wear his hair or even what time he should get home from work.

I was trying to be his mom instead of his wife.

I realized that I had been sitting at the spiritual “head” of my family.  My husband couldn’t lead our family because the position was taken!  By me!

So, I obeyed, leaned back, and the Lord worked in my husband’s heart and my husband started family devotions on his own.  Once I stepped down and leaned back, he was given the room to lead.

Leaning back means that you no longer have to force things to happen. Instead you can trust God, get your own heart right by taking your thoughts captive, do your best, and then let Him do the rest.  

If you’re struggling with trust, the remember, the better you know the Lord, the easier it becomes to trust Him.

Go to Him, pray, let Him know that you want to trust Him more. Ask Him to help you get out of your own way so He can do the work He wants to do.

It may take some time, but it is worth the effort.

I want to end with Psalm 13. It was written by David, and I think it’s helpful for us to see how he dealt with trusting God during difficult times. 

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 

Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

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Learning to Trust God with Your Marriage
Learning to Trust God

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- Ashley Varner

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