"He leaned upon his walking stick and worshipped God." (Hebrews 11:20 Good News Bible)
What did you see in your minds, eye as you read these words of Scripture? Did you, envisage an old man leaning on his walking stick and worshipping God? Of course you had that image in your mind and it does speak of an old man, a man famous in the history of Israel of which more will be said later. In today's world it is not uncommon to see many persons using walking sticks as they go about their lives. Elderly men and women, young; people who have been injured in some accident or suffering from some: illness. Whether all praise God or not is a moot question and cannot be answered as we do not know what goes on in a person's heart.
As person’s age there is no doubt that limitations of one kind or another begin to manifest. themselves, it may be arthritis, poor vision, unsteadiness, lack of energy' and so on. Some may begin to think that life is tedious and going nowhere and this can lead to despondency or even depression as time rolls by. Would this, verse of Scripture have the inner power to engender or inspire 'persons who struggle with limitations to lift their hearts to the totally Other and, in a sense, lean on' God as they, lean on their walking sticks?
There is no doubt. that. a God-centred person knows deep down that the ultimate in life is to be in touch with and in harmony with the Divine. No matter how a person may feel he or she may find meaning and purpose in life by pondering this verse of the Sacred Text and allowing the Spirit of God to move one to praise and worship the Lord.
This text of Sacred Scripture finds its origin In the Book of Genesis wherein Jacob the father of twelve sons, who are traditionally considered to be the, ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel, blesses the sons of Joseph, namely Ephraim and Manasseh. This blessing was to make these two sons of Joseph on the same level as Jacob's twelve sons in subsequent history. This was done in the final stages of Jacob's life ... as he leaned on his staff (walking stick) and worshipped God.
To return to the meaning and inspiration of the text may offer to older or infirm persons of every age, is that no matter our physical state or condition, there is never an obstacle to worshipping on praising God. God is to be reverenced and adored God is to be thanked for his great love and goodness..God is to be sought for forgiveness and the Father has sent his Son, Jesus, into the world that we may be reconciled to God. The God-centred person endeavours to seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice and rests assured that God will foresee all needs on the pilgrimage of life.
The picture of the old person leaning on a walking stick or staff worshipping God is in depth, a picture of faith at work in the heart of frail Jacob. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews has a long eulogy of the faith manifest in the ancestors of the Hebrew people and coming to. fulfilment in the person of Jesus Christ. He wrote, "Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads ,us in our faith and brings it to perfection for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness :of it; and from now on has taken!
The Sacred Author urges us to remain constant in faith, to cling to Jesus: who overcame sin and death, Keep faith in peace and goodness, "So hold up your limp arms, steady your trembling knees and smooth the path you tread" and remember. "He leaned upon his walking 'stick and worshipped God."