The irony of the situation was that I was bolting from one meeting to another, with a cross-town drive in-between. And the place I was in a hurry to?
A radio interview about the mental health of people in the ministry.
I wasn’t exactly expecting to have my own tested in the process. But that’s the price you pay when you’re trying to move at the speed of light on a sidewalk designed for the speed of pedestrians.
For just a minute I thought I was seeing the light of eternity. Turns out I was just seeing stars.
Aside from the wounds to my forehead, knees, hands and pride, I did learn a few things, such as what an “orbital nerve” is. Oh, and that there is more than one kind of black eye.
But the most important thing I was reminded of is that my ability to maintain my rhythm and step in this world of the falling is no comparison to God’s ability to hold me, heal me, and shepherd me home. Regardless of how I may stumble in a temporal world, in the one that matters most, He won’t let me fall.
Facing the Fear
I’ve only taken a tumble like this once before, and wound up having surgery on my shoulder. So it’s no surprise that my first dazed thought, other than, “I’ve got to get to that interview and now I’m going to be late!” was one of fear.
What have I done? Heck, where am I?
I had some very kind help right away, but even then, in the immediate moment, I was scared to try to stand. The reassurance and support I felt from others, however, helped me get my bearings (and my phone and my dropped papers).
But the comfort from others, while meaningful, could never be compared to the way my Heavenly Father faces my fears head-on on my behalf. When He said He would always be with me, and never leave nor forsake me, He didn’t limit His promise to the world of the upright and the land of the walking. For Him to hold me, heal me, and shepherd me home, He would be the first to feel the force of the fall. And because He stands and holds me firmly in His arms, where it matters most, He won’t let me fall.
Living with Limitations
I mentioned earlier the blow to my pride. It’s not just the matter of looking good to others. The fall was a reminder that I have limitations, and I push against them at my own expense.
I don’t know what you do with that, but I don’t handle that sort of news well. Why can’t I be in two places at one time? Why can’t I take on an even greater load than before? What do you mean I have to say no to some things? I can slow down when I get to heaven!
And I’m hearing the Lord say, with a smile, “Why don’t we slow you down a little now?”
But here’s the beauty of (albeit wounded) limitations: God does not leave us to suffer our limitations alone. The entire coming of Jesus Christ was an adventure of limitations – that the God of heaven would take on the form of a servant and be made in the likeness of you and me.
So when I whine about not feeling good or not being full speed, He can say with integrity: “I get it.”
But He can also say, “Let’s walk, let’s play, let’s dance at My pace for a while.” And even in your limitations, He can take you places in His arms you would never go alone.
And then… oh my and then… He will take us to a place where the joy is limitless and “forever” means forever. And because He joyfully carries us in His arms, even in our season of limitations, where it matters most, He won’t let me fall.
Learning to Trust
Every experience in a believer’s life – even a face plant on the sidewalk – is a new opportunity to trust Jesus. It’s a new opportunity, even through the pain, to advance to new levels of love, intimacy, learning, and understanding with Him.
I asked the Lord what I should be learning from this, and His answer was deep:
“Watch where you walk next time.”
“No. Watch. Where you WALK.”
Turns out I was standing half on the path (sidewalk) and half off. Not a good combination, and I’ll leave it to you to meditate on the implications of that. But come on, Lord! I was doing all this for You! Aren’t we on Your winning team? Don’t we sink our putts and cross the goal line and show the world how awesome we are?
“No. You show the world how awesome I am. And nowhere am I more awesome than in picking you up when you’ve stumbled and loving you when you are ashamed.”
But I was trusting You to give me wise and godly answers for the interview.
“Fine. How much more can you trust Me when you’re fighting through weakness or pain? But regardless of how you feel, you CAN trust Me.”
Turns out the interview went marvelously well. But even more important was how well the lesson went for me – that God still uses broken vessels (with broken heads) to reconcile hurting hearts to Him. And because He can be trusted, even when lukewarm foundations can’t, where it matters most, He won’t let me fall.
It’s a long way sometimes from the perch of our self-sufficiency to the places where we crash and burn – figuratively and otherwise. And no one – not even the most sanctified believer – is immune from the need to face our fears, limitations, and our opportunities to trust. And I just wanted you to know that if you’re wounded and weary, or if you’re scared and tired, your Heavenly Father has given you every reason you need to trust Him. For in the face of all the uncertainties you encounter, where it matters most, He won’t let you fall.