Recently, one of my co-workers slipped coming down the stairs from our Food Pantry. Thankfully she was ok, but I was worried that there would be aches and pains later on, after the adrenaline wore off. A little while later, I found myself returning to the notion of the pain after the fall. Not “The Fall” as in the classical title of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but our fall, or falls. Sometimes we have more than one in our lifetime. I characterize a fall as those times when we slip off the path of Jesus Christ. Those times when we stop going to church one Sunday and find that, three years later, we haven’t gone back. Or when we think we’ll break our rules just this once, and slip into a downward spiral of sin that we thought was going to be a one time affair.
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The thing that gets us is that it never hurts instantaneously, or even right away when we fall. There’s this delay, this lag effect so that you’ve fallen, but you feel fine. It’s only later, after that you start to feel the effects of your fall. Just like your body might feel the aches and pains of whiplash the next day after a fender bender, we do not realize until it’s too late that we have done ourselves damage. The same goes for spiritual falls. We stop reading our scripture one day, put off that morning devotional. Maybe we don’t notice how different we feel because we were so busy that day, too sick to get up, or whatever kept us from taking that sacred time with God. We skip the next day because we fell out of rhythm, making internal promises to get back on track after the weekend, when we get back from vacation, you know the drill. Next thing you know, you can’t remember the last time you took care of your relationship with God. You plugged that time in with something, maybe it was an extra twenty minutes of sleep, or another cup of morning coffee. Before you know it, you are off and your spirituality is stagnant and you’re trying to remember how it happened. It took the spiritual pain of realizing you’ve neglected God, your relationship, and your own spirituality to open your eyes and make you see.
There are so many possible falls because there are so many temptations. There are so many ways we could be spending our time, using our money, places we could be on a gorgeous Sunday morning in July. Why do I have to always read my Bible, go to my Church group, get up for worship? Why can’t I have just this once to relax, to rest, to do what I want to do? Because once is never enough. That’s our sinful nature. We can’t get enough, we always want more. Eventually we will take it, even if we have to strip God of what is his, what God deserves from us. The reality is that falls are going to happen. Even to those who are most vigilant, there are slips and falls. That’s why Christians are called to live in community, be a part of the life of the Church. You’re more likely to catch a fall right when it happens if you’re not the only one watching. If others are invested in you and care about you, then they are looking out for you and will help to you to stay on track. It is one of the many reasons that God gave us the Church, but a profound one when I think of all the times I have been saved from a huge fall because someone took notice of me. More than just watching you, other Christians can help to lead you back, lift you up when you stumble and fall. They become part of God’s Grace extended to us. You are going to fall, but you can pick yourself up. There’s plenty of Grace for that, for you.