Day 22, April 4, 2020
“Lean on me”
Growing up in the 1970s it was not unusual to hear a song on the radio, on the popular radio, that either came from the bible or had a theme that resonated with the bible.
- Cat Stevens recorded a popular version of “Morning has broken”, a song that not only celebrates the creation story but also reminds us of the joy of each new morning. “Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning, born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation; praise every morning God’s recreation of the new day.”
- Amazing Grace has been covered by numerous artists. On a recent Saturday morning I was listening to a rebroadcast of Casey Kasem’s American Top-40 from the 70’s and Judy Collins was singing, “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
- Jesus loves the little children was a lead-in to the Ray Stevens song, “Everything is beautiful, in its own way…”
- One that is lesser known is called, “By the rivers of Babylon.” Tucked into a corner of one of her albums you can hear Linda Ronstadt capturing the intense heartache of the people of God in exile, “By the rivers of Babylon, where he sat down, and he wept when he remembered Zion.” The song comes from Psalm 137.
I don’t know the exact inspiration for the song Bill Withers wrote that swept the nation in 1972. The song was “Lean on me.” I don’t know if scripture inspired the song or influenced the song. According to one source the song was based on his childhood in West Virginia, when neighbors would help each other in times of difficulty. If that is the case, neighbors helping neighbors is definitely a theme that runs strong throughout the bible. Love your neighbor as yourself is in Leviticus 19 and it is a verse near and dear to the heart of Jesus. After quoting the great command to “Love the Lord our God,” Jesus said the second great command is like unto it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 34-40)
In the song “Lean on me”, Bill Withers sings, “If there is a load you have to bear that you can’t carry, I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load, if you just call me.” Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens (loads), and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
On March 30, just four days ago, Bill Withers died of heart complications. He was 81. In this age of smart phones and constant news feeds, the story of Bill Withers death keeps showing up over and over again. I am finding great comfort in that. Time and time again in these difficult days of the Coronavirus, I see the face of a man who said, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.” I need that message now more than ever.
God is our first love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. God is our first love. But that neighbor love is awfully important. That neighbor love where people lean on one another, that kind of love matters.
Thanks Bill Withers. Thanks for reminding us to lean on each other. We need that. We need each other. We need each other to lean on.
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.”
With the love of Christ,