From the Preacher’s Pen… As we begin a new year it makes the perfect time to rededicate ourselves to loving and serving our God. Begin right now reading your Bible, studying your Bible and spending time in prayer. It’s the right thing to do if you love the Lord and it will bless you every single day!

Lean In

You’ve probably heard someone use the phrase, “Lean in” as they begin to tell you something. I know several preachers that use “Lean in” to begin their articles and lessons that they teach.

Interestingly, if you check the internet you will be told that the phrase is closely identified with a women’s organization (and a book) that tries to help women achieve their ambitions. While that might be a good goal and a worthy use of the phrase it is really, like a surprising number of terms, just a reworking of something God has been saying for thousands of years!

Lean in is simply saying listen and pay attention to something that is vitally important. God said it to the people of Isaiah’s time (and subsequently to us) this way, Listen and hear my voice, Pay attention and hear my words. (Isaiah 28:23). Certainly that leads us to numerous lessons that God has for us all!

Now let’s back up a minute and look at another use of the term. This time it’s the story of two young U.S. Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale, and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter on guard duty in Iraq on April 22, 2008. Their story was first retold by Marine Lt. General John Kelly in his eulogy for them just four days after the death of his own son in combat and it is a story of incredible heroism.

As General Kelly explained, these two young men were from very different backgrounds, one from a middle-class family and one from an incredibly poor family. But what they had in common was that they were U.S. Marines tasked with protecting their fellow Marines from a crazed driver speeding down on them with a truck load of explosives.

With six seconds to live, they didn’t run like the Iraqi police and guards around them, they didn’t hide. They stood their ground and leaned in.

In the last six seconds of their lives, as captured on a security camera, they took two or three seconds to analyze the situation and shoulder their rifles. For the final two to three seconds of their lives they fired killing the terrorist driver who detonated his explosives on them instead of their fellow Marines.

As General Kelly said it, there was not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight—for you. THEY LEANED IN.

You see, there are many in this world that would trivialize leaning in to mean getting something for yourself. But the really heroic meaning comes from standing your ground, doing your duty for something much greater and more important than just yourself.

Go back to Isaiah’s lesson. In a time when many had given up and quit following the Lord, he challenged them to stand their ground and lean in.

Many, many more times in both Old and New Testaments God challenges His people to train hard to be faithful. And the ultimate test of being faithful is always found in doing the right things in hard times. When the world challenges you to give up and run away,  when Satan with all his power and might is bearing down on you, when the job of Christian becomes hard, then is when we have to stand our ground and lean in.

Both meanings, both lessons make a point for us today. This week and this year we need to lean in and listen to the Lord and lean in to faithfully serve Him.

Spend time with Him reading His word and in prayer. And when the hard tests come, stand fast and stand strong with your brothers and sisters in Christ remembering that even our Savior has done the same for us. Read Hebrews 12:1-4 and then together may we always lean in!

— Lester P. Bagley