I’m leaning on a lot of things and people nowadays.
Struggling with cancer and chemotherapy will humble even the best of us. I’ve talked in other posts about struggling and how I have decided to embrace the concept that I will forever be a struggler. It’s not a sign of weakness, it is a sign I have discovered the true sources of strength.
Perhaps you have heard critics of Christianity say, “Religion is just a crutch” or “Christian faith is just a crutch”. My first response is to defensively push back at such statements as derisive and antagonistic. But if I think about it for a bit, I can find something about the crutch metaphor that I can embrace and admit to with no shame, pride or regret.
To live in a world like ours where people are frequently wounded and limp along on legs weakened, injured and diseased, we eventually must lean on something that transcends our own human resources.
I do a bit of wood carving now and again. Among other things, I have carved several walking sticks. I have given several away and I’ve kept a few of them to use on walks and hikes. More than once I have encountered terrain along the trail where the walking stick offered stability and steadiness I would not have had otherwise. A walking stick (or crutch) doesn’t remove you from the equation. Your own effort is still required. Whether it be termed a crutch or a walking stick, having something firm to lean on is a wise choice.
So Christianity as a crutch isn’t so much a cop-out as a coping mechanism.
Christianity is not for weak willed, intellectually or psychologically weak people.
It is for the honest and the aware.
Honest about our fatigue, our woundedness and our imperfections. Aware of the uncertainty of the terrain of our lives. One never knows what the next medical exam will reveal. One never knows what the evening news will reveal about personal retirement plans, world peace or the lack thereof. One never knows what sons, daughters, husband or wife will reveal at the dinner table. An addiction, a pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease, an affair, a separation or divorce. The world I live in finds this kind of terrain all too common in a life’s journey. Life is not a walk in the park, at least not all the time. We need something, someone to lean on. A means to bear up under the steady weight of being human.
Jesus’ teaching about the yoke reflects the concept well:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30 ESV
In agricultural use, the yoke is designed to redistribute the weight on the oxen. It does not remove the burden but helps bear it. Much like the crutch or the walking stick, the yoke allows the burdens of life to be managed. It allows us to keep moving forward.
The question begs to be asked.
Aside from Jesus, cannot a non-believer find support from natural and non-religious sources without need for faith? My answer would be YES, but with this caveat. One may find support from human relationships, and other natural means to traverse much of life’s journey.
But the ultimate mapping of life’s journey goes beyond the map of temporary human existence. The map I operate from, gives evidence of trails beyond the physical universe. I need all the physical, natural, relational support I can get, but I need more.
I need something, someone, upon whom I can lean my full weight……for the full journey.
I am leaning on Jesus.
And with Him I press forward.
One step at a time. With a crutch, a walking stick and a yoke.
I am a hopeful traveler. I hope to cross your path on the journey and walk a while together.