“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10, NIV 1984).
It was amazing how time slowed down. I had been running in the early morning dark because that’s the only time most doctors have to run. I knew I should have run behind her at the street crossing, but did not. I watched in incredibly slow motion as the front of her car struck me, as I rolled over the hood and then landed hard on my right side. She was frantic. I was sore but fine and told her not to worry.
The next day I was limping backwards carrying a couch for my son-in-law. We had been talking about the car hitting me. I tripped over a small step and landed on my back, bruised again but not injured.
“Are you all right?” (I think he was laughing inside.)
I told him, “Everyone falls, Lance. The key to life is learning how to fall well.”
He just sighed at another father-in-law philosophy.
There is a lot to falling.
First there is the push: so many causes, from cars to couches to sickness to job loss to broken relationships to broken children to dreams-lost-forever and on and on. Sometimes we push ourselves down and sometimes we are flung down in innocence. The cause of the fall is the most curious but least important aspect of the fall. Its importance rests primarily in its lessons for the future.
Then there’s the landing. Falling hurts. The pain of the fall can be wasted or we can endure it in a way that brings glory to Christ and allows us to “share his suffering.” There is no greater witness than one who suffers and, from within that suffering, brings glory to Christ.
And then there’s the getting up again. We have shared before the words that St. Abraham Kidunaia spoke to his niece when he rescued her from prostitution:
“It is not new to fall; what is wrong is to lie down where you have fallen. Remember where you stood before you fell. The devil once mocked you, but now he will know that you can rise stronger than ever before…do not draw back from the mercy of God.”
“Everyone falls, Lance.”
Give me strength to fall well. Give me the compassion to be there for those who have fallen.