Earlier this week, as is our custom after lunch, my friend and I took off for our twenty minute walk. We headed out on our all-to-familiar path, unaware of what the next turn would result in for one of us. Within seconds, I realized the ground and I were going to connect. I stumbled, not sure on what, but quicker than I could correct my misstep, the reality began to connect - I was going to have a painful connection with the ground! Yep, I fell! Not gracefully, mind you, but into the stones, first onto my hands, and making connection shortly thereafter with my shoulder and hip. No idea how, but I'd fallen!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)
As quickly as I recognized my predicament, I also realized something pretty awesome - a hand reaching out to help me up again. Now, don't get me wrong - I wanted to sit there and have a good cry! Somehow, the extended hand and the look of empathy on my friend's face made all the difference in the moment! I bounced up, taking her hand, and resuming the walk after dusting off a bit. In the next couple of blocks, my friend remarked several times about how she'd probably still be on the ground laughing. I guess my instincts for honesty kicked in as I turned to her and told her my "pride" wouldn't let me!
Sad, but true, my pride wouldn't let me! I "bounced back up", taking her hand, but never really stopping long enough to take inventory of the damages. Guess what? You cannot land well in stones! No matter how much "padding" one may have, stones still manage to leave their mark! It wasn't until we were back inside, after our walk, and I began to sit for a while that I realized my "damages" were likely going to be significant. After I have had about a day to think on this one (and you knew I would!), I have some "lessons" from the fall I'd like to share.
- Falls are pretty much inevitable. Try as we might, we cannot always "step well" in life. We will take the occasional misstep - leaving us hurtling toward some fall or another. How significant the fall is going to be is often determined by how big the misstep is! We can do much to "order our steps", but when we least expect it, we are the greatest risk for the misstep! Take your eyes off the path for one minute and you could find yourself "connecting" with some obstacle in your way. Obstacles don't have to be large - it could be a pebble in the path, causing a twisting in our stance, and a propelling force which leads us to the "fall". We have to be vigilant in our attentiveness.
- Falls are not without their damages. We might think we can avoid "real harm" simply by falling on the "fleshy" parts, but nothing about our "flesh" quite protects us from all damage! Where we fall determines the extent of damage. In the literal sense, falling on concrete or stones makes for a much more damaging fall than falling on a pathway of grass. There is not much "bounce factor" with the concrete or stones. In fact, both are rather "abrasive". Some "missteps" in our lives leave us hurtling toward the things which will leave "injury" - not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.
- Falls often expose things hidden. Lest you think I mean something in the path, let me clarify. As I realized I had fallen, I immediately wanted to be upright again - not so much because the fall was painful, but because my pride was demanding me to be upright again! I even admitted it in so many words to my friend! My pride refused to let me stay down! Ugh! You know what I mean here - those "falls" which don't take place when no one else is looking, but he ones which occur right out in front of everyone! Yep! They are the ones where your "pride" kicks in and you attempt to "bounce back up" quicker than you fell. Problem is, you fell at a pace much faster than you will ever be able to bounce back! Falling costs us something - it just may be the exposure of our pride! Just sayin!
- Falls leave us with evidence of the fall often unrealized in the moment. No amount of rubbing this sore spot, or taking an anti-inflammatory medication was going to keep the bruises from forming! The colorful display of first this spot, then another, stand as reminders of the fall! My friend made an interesting statement to me: "Tomorrow will show the true colors." So true, my friend! Today's fall will never fully "show" the tell-tale signs of the "fall" until the "true colors" are displayed somewhere in the future. Those "signs" will often be with us for some time - displaying their full range of color - until one day, they are simply gone. In the meantime, they remind us of the fall - but hopefully, they also remind us of the mercy of God in protecting us from anything so damaging that we could not recover under his care!
- Falls should redirect our path. We probably don't want to walk the same way again - simply because we recall the pain of the fall! We alter our course because we know the hazards now. When we learn from the fall, we are less likely to make the same mistakes. If we never explore the "why" behind the fall, we will likely continue to stumble. Sometimes the reason for the fall is not always apparent. In these circumstances, we have to trust God to point out what only he can reveal - then make the necessary course corrections to not follow the same path again.
- Falls are made easier when there is a hand reaching for us. As I close this morning, know this - no hand is more welcomed than the hand of a friend reaching out in the time of our greatest need! Fallen, humbled, and in pain, the hand of my friend aided me back up to my feet. In fact, she dusted me off a little, repeatedly looked me over and over, and continued to maintain a "vigilant watch" over me. We can ask for no greater gift than this! Yes, the road is riddled with all kinds of opportunities for us to "fall". Whose hand will reach out for you when you fall? Just askin!