by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11
Jentezen Franklin, pastor of the multi-site Free Chapel Church in Georgia, shared this story:
“A pastor of a small church would occasionally call on one gentleman to pray, and every time this one particular guy would pray, he would pray, ‘Oh God, thank you for this word today, and bless these people today.’ Then he would end with the strangest statement, ‘And, oh God, oh Lord, prop us up on our leaning side.’ Every time the preacher would call on him, he’d pray, ‘Oh Lord, prop us up on our leaning side.'”
Finally, the pastor pulled him aside, and he said, “I love the way you pray, but I don’t understand your little closing phrase. What are you talking about – prop us up on our leaning side?” He responded, “Well, Pastor, I’m a farmer. I live out on the farm and, you know, I live in the country. I’ve got an old barn, and it’s been there a long time. It’s been through a lot of weather, and a lot of storms, and a lot of bugs have eaten at it. I got to looking at it one day when I was riding on my tractor, and I noticed that it was leaning to one side. So I thought to myself, oh my goodness! The barn is leaning, and it’s a matter of time before the whole thing falls.”
He continued, “So, you know what I did? I went and got some pine beams, and I propped it up on its leaning side.” He said, “It still leans, and probably always will. But I propped it up on its leaning side. And it’s not going to fall down because I propped it up on its leaning side. And I got to thinking about it.
When I was on the tractor, Pastor, and I was riding in the field, I thought about the kind of year I’ve had, and some of the storms I’ve been through, and some of the people that are bugging me, and eating away at my joy and eating away at my spirit. And I just got to thinking, you know, I’m still here! I’m still standing after all that stuff I’ve been through. The storms, and the howling winds – they couldn’t topple me. I’m still standing by the grace of God.”
He concluded, “From time to time, I find myself leaning. Leaning toward my old desires, leaning toward anger, leaning toward becoming bitter or hateful at the people who are bugging me, or leaning toward going back to the old habits and the old life I used to have. And when I feel myself start leaning toward that tendency, I just remember that old barn, and I pray out loud on my tractor – ‘Lord, I thank you that you’re going to prop me up on my leaning side.’”
Friends, the Beloved Community props everyone within it on their “leaning side” – we all have them. So lean in, Beloved Community – lean in! Let’s support one another on our leaning sides (and every other side too).