When I was in school, I participated in several different sports from the time I was in sixth grade until I graduated from college. I participated in volleyball a couple of years. I was a cheerleader for a little while. I played basketball. I even attempted to play softball. The one sport that faithfully participated in was track and field. Track was my love.
Though I competed in track for eleven years, I didn’t always participate in the same events. Sometimes I ran the 200 meter dash, other times I ran the 100 meter dash. There were even times in which I asked my coach to enter me into the 400 meter dash. I also ran the 400m relay, 800m relay and 1600m relay at different times. I even did the pole vault and ran hurdles. However, the only two events I consistently participated in were the long jump and the triple jump.
Those events took skill, coordination and stamina, and earning how to land properly was the hardest part of those events. It’s inevitable that a jumper is going to fall, but the way the jumper falls could potentially hurt his chances of scoring well in a meet. The jump will be measured from mark in the pit that is closest to the “board”. Because of that it is imperative that a jumper fights the natural inclination to fall backward and learns how to fall forward.
Suppose a young woman is defending her title as the state long jump champion. If she jumps 18’6”, but loses her balance and fall backwards (or if she so much as takes one step backward while in the sand) that faulty move could cost her the championship. If she were adequately trained to fall forward, she’d have a mouth full of sand, but she’d also have an 18’6” jump. Sure she fell, but at least she fell forward.
Many times we Christians fall. We have every intention of being godly examples and witnesses for Christ, but sometimes we mess up – especially when we’re operating in our own strength.
We have every intention of walking in a spirit of patience, but the person in front of us in line is going in slow motion and before we know it, we’re rude and in a bad mood and behaving in ways that are unbecoming of children of God and saying all sorts of things we’d never allow our children to say.
We fully intend to exercise self-control in everything we do, but when that person cuts us off mid-sentence or gets over in our lane at the last minute without signaling, we completely and totally lose it.
We desire to be kind and gentle to everyone we meet, then we come across someone who is so rude that we just have to tell them about themselves.
We fail to be who we know we are. We stumble. We fall. When we fall, we need to learn not to fall backwards. When we fall backwards, we fall under guilt and condemnation and we believe that God doesn’t want to see our faces because we’ve failed him too many times.
Just as the jumper must train herself to fall forward, we must train ourselves to fall forward, into the arms of our loving Father who sees, knows, forgives and loves.
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