I enjoyed some short recorded clips of the Winter Olympics on the On-line news. I was astonished by the speeds of some of the events, especially the speed skating. Having done little in the way of skating all my life other than trying it a few times, and spending most of my time spreadeagled on the ice trying to get back on my feet, I decided it was for not for me. So the skills of the Olympic skaters was beyond my understanding. They spoke of very hard work and single-minded dedication. This makes the heartbreak of things going wrong in the heat of a race doubly painful. This was the experience of Briton Elsie Christie in the 500 metre short track speed skating final. She fell as a result of some contact with another skater, The agony of her disappointment was too painful to watch. She seemed to be going so well with her mind set on an Olympic gold medal, and in a few split seconds she lost all control, and was sliding on her back. We all hope that she will recover from her disappointment and regain her confidence; a difficult task.
The christian life has many falls while we are in this world. We have not been promised a smooth journey through this life, but many trials and tests. We are not speaking about physical falls like that of Elsie Christie, but spiritual falls: falls into sin, failures of faith, lapses of our love for one another, failures to love our neighbour as ourselves, and many other things overtake us, and we are filled with disappointment and self-reproach, but our relationship with Christ is not broken, although we may feel that it has. The bible has comforting words for us.
In Psalm 37, verses 23,24, we read, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He (the Lord) delights in his (the christian’s) way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with His hand”. There are a number of encouragements for our christian lives in these verses, but the first thing we learn is that the Lord does not promise us that we will never fall. What He does promise is that He holds our hand when we fall. There are other important things which we learn from these verses, regarding the christian life.
In verse 23, we read that the christian’s very steps are ordered (directed) by the Lord. Yes, and this ‘directing’ includes our falls and stumbles! These falls in the christian’s life are important for his or her sanctification. We all naturally want life to be going smoothly, but smooth times can be dangerous times. We become self-sufficient and independent, which makes us less dependent on the Lord. The Lord loves dependent children, and He will do whatever is necessary to ensure that dependence by allowing His child to have occasional falls. However, the Lord delights in the christian’s ‘way’, that is the whole of his life’s journey including the falls. In verse 24, we are given some insight into what happens when the christian actually falls.
We read that when the christian falls, “he shall not be utterly cast down”. This is speaking about falling without hope of recovery. This simply will not happen, and there is a very good reason given for this: that in the fall “the Lord upholds him or her with His hand”, He just does not let go! Poor Elsie Christie, when she fell, she was sliding and spinning around on the ice, with no hand to hold her. The christian may have spiritual falls, but in these falls, he or she will never be left for one second without that hand to hold them.