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!
A Lesson from the Wee Hours of the Night
The lesson at our youth group (Rebels of Faith) “sleep over” was on Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast. It is a familiar story, which can be a problem because sometimes when we become familiar with something we lose sight of the significance of it. So, watching the lesson and thinking about how to help the kids relate to it was helpful in that it forced me to keep it fresh.
2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn’t want to come.
4 Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet. ’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. 7 The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city.
8 “Then he told his slaves, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore, go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ 10 So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests.
11 But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
WHAT IF NO ONE COMES?
There are a lot of ways to approach this text, but tonight (and this morning) I’ve been focusing on what it would be like to put together something as significant as a wedding celebration—all the cost and effort involved in that—and have no one care enough to attend. It would leave the bride and groom devastated. I have been to weddings that were sparsely attended for one reason or another. Sometimes that’s part of the plan, but other times circumstances have interfered and though many invitations were sent few were able (or willing) to attend.
As disappointed and hurt as a couple might be in that circumstance, I can’t imagine the heart-break that God feels on a daily basis as those He has invited to enter into a relationship with Him repeatedly turn their backs on Him and reject His invitation. That’s the story in this parable. God has made the invitation to all human-kind, but so few have been willing to respond.
The reasons might be many, and some might even start to sound sensible or practical, but all ring somewhat hollow when measured against the depth and bredth of the love of God that prompts the invite.
- For some they might think it is inconvenient
- For others they might consider themselves too busy
- Others might be concerned that too many things would change
- Some might be reluctant to accept or believe all the claims of Christ
Everything is Taken Care Of
The other truth that contrasts these responses is that God has done everything needed to make our attendance at His celebration possible. All we need to do is RSVP. Did you catch that…Everything is taken care of! If we are willing to come He is ready to receive. I love going on trips or two events where everything is taken care of for us. It’s incredibly relaxing to leave everything in someone else’s capable hands. This is the scope of God’s invitation. All the details are handled by Him.
Variety of Lessons
There are, as I mentioned, a number of different lessons you can pull from this passage of Scripture. What do you see there? What things stand out to you? Most importantly, do you see the impact God’s love and grace can have if we respond to His invitation?
Dave “Big D” Bentley
An excellent article I read this morning that falls right in line with the things the Lord has been doing in my life and teaching me.