I enjoy a good run on occasion. Most of the time, I just do it because I don’t want to look like Jabba the Hutt, but sometimes I can really get into it. You know the feeling when you’re running and all of a sudden, you’re not thinking so much about the pain and sweat anymore. You’re more just lost in thought, running hard, in the “zone,” listening to great music–
Then I fall. Hard. I mean, I knocked most of the skin off of my right knee, right thumb, and right ego. I’m sure I looked like a flailing walrus as I catapulted from grandeur into the ground. Maybe that’s why my Dad was chuckling…
I’m all right now. Well, it still hurts (almost two weeks later!). It’s taking a long time to heal. It happened so quickly, but the healing takes so long! For a while I just hobbled around–my Dad called me “peg leg.” I began to wear a patch. I’ve entered a life of piracy.
At any rate, falling hurts. Duh. And since I took the opportunity to milk this wound for all it’s worth by staying in bed to read all day, I’ve had time to reflect on the nature of falling. And I’m not just talking about physical falls…
I fall spiritually. A LOT. Already this year, though I determined to make changes and be better, I’ve fallen into sin more days than not. I feel the words of Charles Wesley are so true in my life:
“I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.”
I mess up messily. There’s a reason the Bible describes making sinful choices as “falling.” Famously, Romans 3:23 says,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
That isn’t just a verse for the unsaved. That verb isn’t past tense–it’s present. I FALL. Regularly. Back into the sins that Christ saved me from. I’m done pretending to be a good Christian, because I’m not.
And falling is not okay. It’s not like I can just get up and go about my business. No, falling draws blood. It skins knees. It takes days–weeks to recover fully. Large wounds don’t scab easily, especially when you fall a second time the same day. And the next. It’s a long, messy process.
Sin has consequences. It hinders my fellowship with God. But I desperately plead for repentance–true repentance, that doesn’t look back longingly on the sin I’m confessing. I want repentance that stands up and hobbles forward, no turning back.
This is the kind of thing my doppelganger the Apostle Peter went through. Boy, did he ever fall!
Christ said in Mark 14: “You will all fall away.”
Peter said, “Even though they all fall away, I will not!”
Christ told him that he’d do it not once or twice, but three times! You’d think if you were told that you’d fall into sin three times, that you’d be on guard against it the rest of the day. But sin has a way of making us forget stuff. And so Peter fell. Hard.
But he got back up, with a helping Hand. John 21 is one of the most beautiful chapters of all the Bible. The God of the Universe takes the time to have breakfast with His followers, including the one who stabbed Him in the back and claimed to never have known Him. How does Jesus respond? By restoring Peter…
It was messy. But the risen King stooped down and began to wash the wound. Clear away the blood. Apply antiseptic. Bandage up that bloody knee and pull him back to his feet. What then?
He simply said, “Follow me.”
Okay, Lord, I’ll follow. I’ll probably trip and fall a thousand times, but I WILL FOLLOW. So long as You stop when I fall to help me clean my wounds…
As a fellow-faller Josh Wilson puts it:
“I’m scared to look You in the eyes.
I’ve had a second chance a thousand times.
But You’re the light left on, You’re an open door,
And You’ll always give a thousand more!
Oh God I’ve been running for so long,
Don’t know how I get so far out here on my own.
But oh God I’m running back to Your strong arms.
I need to be where You are.
I’m falling apart alone.
I’m coming home.”