Those lyrics are the deep prayer of someone who feels fragile and is needing spiritual rest and support from God. The songwriter says, “Without you I fall apart, you’re the one that guides my heart. Lord, I need you.” We can all relate to that at times.
Some seasons of our lives push us down to our knees where we feel weak and desperate for God’s help. These times of trials or suffering are hard, not fun and discouraging. We can feel alone and helpless in our flesh. If you’ve ever read the poem Footprints, by Mary Stevenson, then you know the sentiment.
The Footprints Poem
One night I had a dream…
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life this really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.
(Thankfully, the poem doesn’t end here!)
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
The poem speaks just as the song does, “When I cannot stand, I’ll fall on you; Jesus your my hope and stay!”
What help! What hope!
When we cannot stand, we can fall on God to be our defense because he IS our righteousness. He carries us. Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (New International Version).
Romans 5:1-5 speaks to this idea too; that even in our sufferings there can be hope.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only [this], but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
As I was initially thinking all of this over, sitting on a park bench at Bethel Mill Park, I saw three beautiful black hawks soaring overhead. I thought of Isaiah 40:28-31 as I watched, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I watched those birds soar for what seemed like forever and realized that they hardly ever flapped their wings, yet they were able to climb higher and higher in the sky without any effort of their own. They were just soaring on the wind; yet gaining altitude and perspective. What a spiritual lesson there is in seeing that sight!
God is saying through the book of Isaiah, through Matt Maher’s song and through these soaring hawks that we don’t need to “flap our wings to go higher;” rather going higher to get perspective above our circumstances is something we do through the power of the Spirit! Something imparted to us through faith because Paul says in Romans says we have “gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
Therefore we can stand in grace, soar on wings like eagles (or hawks in this case) and find hope in the suffering moments we feel we may fall apart… for God is our refuge in times of trouble.
“My one defense, my righteousness, oh God how I need you.”