Sue West


“By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.” (Hebrews 11:21)

In 1980 John Stallings wrote the classic hymn, “Learning to Lean”. Its message carries a tremendous weight of theology. The main point is, we all need someone to lean on. Aging couples lean more and more on one another as time goes by. If we live long enough, we may at some point need to lean upon a cane or depend upon others for what we could once do ourselves.

According to scripture the patriarch, Jacob, learned to lean, not necessarily because he wanted to, but because God wanted him too. Jacob’s actions throughout his younger years were anything but godly. He was rebellious and at times manipulative. His conniving ways landed him in trouble more than once. His actions were not isolated to him.

Many of us have also been supplanters and mischievous in times past. God did not write Jacob off as beyond help and neither will He write us off. God is our Savior and longs for our repentance. He is long suffering, not willing that any should perish. If we could absorb anything through meditating upon Jacob’s life, we would find out very quickly that there is hope for the hopeless, grace for the stout-hearted and blessings for the hard-worker. We would also glean that those of us with the least likely odds of achieving great things for God, are in fact, the ones who someday will.

Whether we see it or not, our weakness when overcome by God’s strength can become our greatest asset. It is through the dealings of God that we learn to lean on Jesus. As Jacob in the days of old, we spend a great portion of our lives wrestling against the purposes of God. Jacob’s wrestling match with the Angel of the Lord left him with a hollowed-out thigh. God’s great love in overcoming Jacob’s reluctance caused him to use a walking staff for the rest of his life.

This is the template for all God’s children. He wants to conquer our will and cause us to lean upon Him for everything.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jacob as an old man died while worshipping God and leaning upon a staff. I think this was symbolic of something far greater. Maybe it’s about what the hymn writer said, “I’m finding more power than I ever dreamed while learning to lean on Jesus.”

“The joy I can’t explain filled my soul

The day I made Jesus my king.

His Blessed Holy Spirit is leading my way,

He's teaching and I'm learning to lean.

Learning to lean,

Learning to lean,

I'm learning to lean on Jesus.

Finding more power than I've ever dreamed,

I'm learning to lean on Jesus.

There's a glorious victory, each day now for me while I’m learning to lean on Jesus.

John Stalling

Sue West is available to speak at churches and home Bible Study groups. Contact her at

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