Have you ever done something and you just got mad at yourself for it? This morning I slipped on the ice heading to work at the middle school…again. See, I had done the exact same thing at a slightly different location yesterday on my way down the hill.
Besides the obvious pain from the fall…now I am bruised on both knees, my elbow, and my hand…it was a serious blow to my confidence and pride this morning. I tried really hard this morning to walk upright and stay that way because I don’t enjoy falling. I had made it all winter without falling and was feeling pretty good before my slide yesterday. Today I passed the spot of my fall yesterday and felt a sense of relief. I was actually proud that I had made it without falling today. About twenty feet later my pride in my accomplishment disintegrated. Lightly glazed across the road was an ultra thin sheet of ice that was barely visible—until I got an up close look at it from the ground. In a nanosecond I hit the ground on my knee and elbow, winding up partially into the road. Fortunately there was no one there to run me over (or see me fall).
So, why talk about it now? I have some thoughts that came from it—big surprise I know—that I think might connect to things in life for most of us.
The Personal Experience
First – Falling can Happen With Little to no Warning
On both of these days things seemed clear and safe. Actually, in yesterday’s case I was feeling pretty good. I love working with the kids at the middle school and I like the brief walk from my apartment to the school. In addition it was a gorgeous—albeit chilly—morning. When I hit the ground yesterday I had no idea it was coming. My left foot slipped quickly and I went down fast and hard on my right knee (which has been in pain for other reasons since October) and dropped my lunch which scattered into the road and down into the ditch. As I knelt there in pain I was stunned by how unexpected and swiftly everything had happened. Sometimes we fall without any warning.
Second – The Things that Cause us to Fall aren’t Always Apparent
The science of what had happened is obvious, and thinking back over it I should have been aware of the potential danger. The warm days and evening have lead to slow melt of the snow and ice that remains. Over night these tiny flows have refrozen leaving thin sheet of what is commonly known as black ice in places. Unlike stepping onto a frozen puddle or pond where I would have been aware of the ice, in this case it was practically invisible, but no less slick. Sometimes the things that cause us to fall aren’t seen.
Third – When We Fall there is Often a Cost that Follows
Fortunately the costs I faced in these falls was relatively small—unless I have some lasting damage in my body. It cost me an orange that rolled down into the ditch. It cost me some pain in my physical body. It may have cost me my favorite pair of pants which now have tiny holes in the knees that I fear will eventually become bigger holes. However, I’m also keenly aware that these costs could have been so much greater because in both instances I ended up partially into the traffic path of Fairground Rd. which is terribly dangerous. Sometimes there is a cost involved when we fall.
Fourth – When We Fall there is a Need to Get Back Up and Go On
Obviously I didn’t just lay down in the road and stay there. That would have been stupid and dangerous. When we fall we have to get up. As Frank Sinatra might have told us musically:
Now nothing’s impossible, I’ve found for when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.
Don’t lose your confidence if you slip, be grateful for a pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up, dust off, start over again.
Life isn’t over just because we fell, and we’re not done just for stumbling. It might be hard—I’ve noticed that it gets harder to get up as the years pass. When I used to be able to bounce right back, now I find I need to take an inventory in the process. When you fall get back up and press on.
The Spiritual Application
As you know I’m a pastor and teacher so I try to find lessons in everything I can, and this is no exception. Besides the lesson of looking a little more closely at the path before me as I walk and paying closer attention to the presence of ice and snow, there are some relative lessons that may aid us through life.
Falling isn’t Final
This is a great hope and good news for me. I proudly declare that—before this episode—I had not fallen all winter. However, on a daily basis I miss the mark in my life and fall in other ways. It would be tragic if I chose to let these daily falls finish me. By faith I have found forgiveness and strength in the midst of these daily tumbles. The term sin isn’t a popular idea, but it is a real part of our experience as humans. The Bible—which is like a Text Message from God for our daily lives—gives us some pretty clear insight on this. Consider:
Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
However, though I fall it doesn’t have to be final:
Micah 7:7-8 7 But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. 8 Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.
The difference is the foundation of faith in God. That leads to the second SPiritual truth I thought of today:
We All Need Help to Get Back Up
The fall yesterday and this morning were painful and hard, but the hardest part was getting back up because I was on unstable ground. I had to get up very carefully. Gratefully, I was able to get up. The spiritual fall is different. We can’t, nor are we expected to, get up on our own. That’s why we have Jesus and the availability of the faith relationship. He came so that He could convert the fallen—all of us. The passage I referenced earlier (Romans 3.23) is followed by these verses:
24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Last weekend I had the chance to see my niece playing hockey. It was fun, and one of the best things and most entertaining parts of the game for me was watching these girls fall and slide on the ice. At one point Skylar went down and slid into the wall with a loud thud. I was concerned for a moment and then I was amazed. Like nothing had happened she leapt back to her feet and kept on skating. In skates, covered with pads, and on this really slick rink, these girls bounced right back up every time they went down. I learned later that they actually practice how to fall and get right back up. Pretty impressive, but not at all a picture of the condition of man-kind.
Jesus came and bore the penalty for our sin because it was truly the only way we could ever have hope. There was no way we could get up on our own, no matter how much effort or practice we put into it. We can not bounce right back up from that sin fall. We need a Savior.
I know, it’s a lot to pull from a couple of slips on the ice, but I hope that what I have shared here from those experiences reveals something about you, and most importantly your need for a relationship by faith with the God of creation. He invites you daily to that connection with Him. What will you do with that invitation?
Oh, and watch where you are walking…it’s dangerous out there!