Many lifetimes ago, I rode horses for a living. One of my jobs was to get on every new horse that was sent to us for “fixing”. I was given the job, not because I was the best rider, but because I was at the bottom of the pecking-order.
One of the reasons I held the job was because I kept getting back up after the falls. Some thought I was tenacious, others thought I was proud. Most thought I was a fool. I guess all three were partly true. But in all honesty, I kept getting back up because I’m stubborn.
Stubborn enough to keep trying despite the jeering.
However, over time I began to see there were positives to this crazy job; I learned how to fall, and I became a better rider.
In fact, falling is a skill I have developed in every facet of my life. The degree and magnificence of which varies only with age, experience and circumstance.
What can I say, it’s a gift.
The ongoing lesson, however, is how to keep “Getting Up”.
I used to question the difference between Peter and Judas.
(A bit of a detour, I know. But stay with me, all will become clear.)
I couldn’t understand how after their betrayals, Peter was accepted back into the fold and Judas wasn’t. After all, we read that Judas was seized with remorse. He even confessed to the chief priests and elders,
4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”Matthew 27:4-5
Unconcerned, the elders turned their backs on him and Judas took his own life.
The Bible tells us that all sin is equal. So, Judas’s betrayal can’t have been worse than Peter’s denial. They were both sorry, they both confessed, yet Peter went on to lead the Church and “Judas” became a byword for “betrayer of friends”.
I’m just ruminating here, so take it to Scripture before taking it on board, but I suspect the difference was that, after his fall, Judas didn’t Get Up.
We read that he confessed to the elders. But Scripture does not reveal him confessing to God. And the chief priests and elders were neither willing nor able to remove his sin.
We don’t read anything of Peter’s confession, but we see Peter running to the tomb, running ashore, and continuing to run after Christ till the day he died.
Sin isn’t the problem
God knows we’re sinners. And we know the wages of sin is death. God knows the sin we’re born into keeps us separated from Him. And we know Christ is the solution, and Sin is no longer the problem.
The problem is us. We have been given free choice. Which leads us to fall. Where we are confronted with choice: stay down or, Wise Up, Get Up and run back to Christ?
Baptism of the Spirit
In Acts, Paul came across some believers who’d only received John’s baptism. It was a baptism of repentance, but Paul reckoned it wasn’t enough; they needed the baptism of the Holy spirit.
John’s baptism represented a once-for-all turning away from the world, toward God. But baptism of the Spirit requires ongoing faith in Jesus. It is the start of a transformational, ongoing, victorious relationship with the Triune God.
Sadly, however, this baptism does not stop us falling into sin. Rather, it’s from within this relationship our sin is revealed, and the solution provided. The question is whether we choose to accept the gift of a clean slate and a fresh start after each fall.
The choice is ours
It takes the Spirit for us to see our need for a Saviour, and a Saviour to lift the burden of sin. It’s not enough to repent once-for-all. It’s a constant, on-going requirement. Kind of like eating dessert.
When served humble pie, I have found it is better to consume bit by bit, day by day, rather than one great whopping serve.
God has been graciously leading me on a journey of dessert-ish-repentance. Yet, it’s not enough to just Wise Up and ‘Fess Up, I need to Get Up, and climb back on the horse, every day.
Because falling is a given, I see stubbornness as a survival skill. We need to be stubborn enough to keep fighting, to keep getting up, and keep running back to Christ.
And humility helps too.
Because sometimes, there’s not just dust on your pants, there’s egg on your face too.
But if we keep getting up, we learn how to fall less often, or at least in less-epic proportions. And we develop grace and compassion for others as they land in the dust beside us.
What about you? What do you find the hardest part of Getting Up after a fall?