“If our Father had never let us fall, we would never have learned how to stand back up.”
I remember holding onto the seat of that little blue bike and running behind to make sure that my son didn’t crash to the ground. “He’s so little,” I rationalized to myself. “Don’t let go, daddy,” he yelled. But deep down inside I knew, that even at his young age, I had to let go–come what may. So I did let go. There were times he flew and times he fell.
As he grew, the urge to try to protect him from the many dangers of life never really went away. I was there for his first stitches, his first sprain… his first heartbreak. There were times when a lecture was important, and there were times when the lectures did absolutely no good. But most of the time he just needed someone there to tell him it was all going to be alright–to encourage him to trust his father, and more importantly, his heavenly Father.
As my son got older–and a bit naughtier, as boys are wont to do–there were times when the falls and fails were the consequence of wrong choices. He faced some difficult times. Those times were difficult for his mother and me as well, wanting to help but knowing that there were certain roads that we couldn’t walk with him.
You see, we all need to fall, and we all need to fail. On our own. With no backup parachute. Those are the times in our lives when we have the most potential for growth. We often call them setbacks, problems or bad luck. But in fact, they are truly opportunities. Admittedly, we often fail to see them in that light. Discouragement is much easier to find than motivation. Discouragement stands off to the side, in the open, waving its arms and calling out to us. It beckons us to withdraw from the race and just “sit this one out.” It is quick to point out that we don’t deserve the circumstances in which we find ourselves, that we’re really victims.
Opportunity, however, runs ahead of us, clothed with our callings, dreams, and visions. We have to keep our eyes ever watchful for it or we will fail to notice when it presents itself. It may pause momentarily when we stumble, but it doesn’t wait long. And it becomes more difficult to re-locate the longer we stay down.
While these things are true of life in general, they are especially true of our spiritual lives. And for whatever reason, we think that God should bail us out each and every time we face difficulties of any size. We become discouraged and think that God doesn’t care. But the fact remains that if our Father had never let us fall, we would never have learned how to stand back up. If he always brushed the dust off, patted our fannies and pointed us in the right direction we would never learn how to navigate life and persevere.
When we think of grace we think of God’s forgiveness, but we also often think of it, erroneously, as a “get-out-of-jail-free card”. We beg God to show us His “grace” by getting us out of the mess we’re in, but our view of grace is flawed! The fact of the matter is that God is showing us his grace by letting us fall, and by allowing us to stand back up by faith and urging us to learn how to nurture the fruit of the Spirit in the fertile soil of adversity.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1-5, ESV).
And James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, ESV).
The issue isn’t whether we will fall or fail, that most assuredly will happen, but whether we get back up. We have the freedom and opportunity to choose whether we will react to our circumstances or act in, on, and through them to find the path of growth. He will never leave nor forsake you. He’ll always be there for you. But He also knows best. He will often allow us to experience things so that we can become more like Jesus in all things.
When you fall, get back up!