Fruitful Christians recover quickly after a fall. These believers are not perfect, but they are sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction and are quick to return to the Lord in repentance. In fact, they are actually grateful for the correction and praise God, not only for revealing their weakness but also for drawing them back to obedience.
I read these words a few days ago in Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional “Looking for Fruit”. His message was about the Fruit of the Spirit which, he stressed, is not about what we DO but who we ARE. It’s about character more than conduct.
We are called to display the Fruit if the Spirit, regardless of our circumstances or environment. We are to be steady and calm, trusting the Lord and obeying what He commands. Jesus is our role model.
Just as a tree cannot strain and produce more or better fruit, we cannot make ourselves more fruitful. “Believers can’t produce these qualities in themselves. Trying harder to be godly will never work. Character transformation occurs when we submit to God, giving Him complete control of our lives. Only then will the Spirit be free to produce fruit that remains even in the deepest, darkest storms.”
There was another reason that this message touched me so powerfully.
Here’s what happened.
Last Friday, I was tired, fighting a cold and eager to get home. But I needed to stop at the drug store and grocery store on the way. A subway train was pulling into the station just as I was coming down the stairs so I rushed to catch it. And fell.
As I fell, two thoughts came almost simultaneously. ‘Try to stop your fall’ and ‘Don’t stop, just fall’. I obeyed the second one and sprawled across the dirty tiles, as waiting passengers stared at me. One of my colleagues was there, solicitous, and offered to travel with me. So did another lady, a kindly stranger. I’m sure everyone else was either snickering quietly or thinking ‘glad it wasn’t me’.
I embarrass easily and live in self-conscious dread of appearing foolish. Guess what? I felt like a total idiot – extremely embarrassed, physically and emotionally shaken, trying to be calm as I stood on wobbly legs with throbbing knees.
A few minutes later, my train came and I continued my commute, slowly and carefully, fighting tears of self pity and pain. I managed to do my shopping, and finally made it home, exhausted and relieved.
I went into the bathroom and, ahem, went. As I sat there, I looked at my knees, and thanked God for casual Fridays – I was wearing jeans and not dress pants. No broken skin, just redness and the beginnings of a medley of bruises.
After enjoying a nice glass of Merlot and a simple dinner, I took a careful shower, then sat down to contemplate the situation. Journalling, as I tried to glean what I needed from this experience.
Here’s what I learned.
- It’s never a good idea to run for the train, but it’s especially hazardous when you’re tired and/or distracted
- Anyone can fall – not just older folks, children or klutzes
- When you hear competing mental-whispers, heed the one that sounds more like it’s from God – the one that seems to make less sense – you’ll be glad you did
- Be mindful and in the moment – avoid distractedness
- God wants to develop your character and he will use many different approaches to do it – learn quickly and well (so he doesn’t have to escalate)
- It could have been much worse – if I had listened to the ‘break your fall’ message, I could have injured my shoulder , one or both wrists (I was carrying a tote bag), perhaps scraped my palm, and possibly jarred my lower back (I was wearing my backpack purse)
I need to remember to pray at the top of every set of stairs that I use (normally, I do; this time, I was rushing and I forgot). Angels could have kept my foot from stumbling (Psalm 91) but – and I can almost picture God saying “no, let her fall, let’s see if she will heed my words”.
I am grateful to be so cared for and well loved by my Heavenly Father, who wants the best for me. May I never question that, or forget it. Perhaps this will encourage you, too.
Vera, why do we women feel foolish when we stumble or make a mistake or fall or are awkward? Decades of conditioning that we must always be perfect, lest we be judged. I wish we didn’t do this to ourselves.
We ARE going to rush, we ARE going to miss a step or overlook an obstacle. It’s normal, we are human. I try nowadays not to care about what others think, especially when I am just being normal.
But, it happens to us all. A few years ago I was at the bank where they defined the line for the tellers with velvet ropes. I was in boots and was carrying my purse and a briefcase but for some reason decided impromptu to hop over the rope to get to the line more quickly. It was only a short line, but I decided to hop. And, of COURSE, my boots caught on the rope and I fell, sprawling out awkwardly, my purse and contents of my briefcase shooting out in every direction.
People all gasped, those on line, the tellers, the bank managers, the whole bank stopped and stared in horror, as if they had never seen anyone fall. Maybe they were thinking I would sue them (we are so litigious here) but, how could I? It was my haste and stupidity, nothing to do with the facility itself.
Luckily, I just laughed at myself and got up, got all my contents and said loudly, “That’s learn me”, quoting the Beverly Hillbillies or something.
I have seen people do worse and recognize that awkward is OK. I am OK with it now.
And yes, we should all slow down!
If a careful person like you or I make these mistakes, imagine the careless?
I misstyped: “That’ll learn me” is what I meant to type …