Why Does God Let Us Fall?
Some days I feel broken, some days I feel whole. Some days I feel unattractively Americanized with what I feel to be “needed” Starbucks runs and being dissatisfied with my wardrobe because it is boring me. I think of the naked children I held in Haiti that couldn't even imagine the closet I have and feel deeply struck with conviction and feel helpless to change this ugly selfishness.
Sometimes I feel repulsed by my pride. Other times I feel like I am drowning in my pain, but through it all, lingering in the background of my life, is a very keen sense of God's lavish grace, mercy, and goodness over my life. I feel completely inadequate to attempt to communicate something so infinite, but perhaps His grace will take my words and speak to your soul.
When I say lavish I mean an abundant rain over a desolate desert. A feast in the middle of a famine. A symphony in the middle of a tormenting silence. Really, we are this desolate desert and famine stricken soul striving to find something to fulfill the darkest, dustiest, and most silent places in our bones that tend to feel light years older than they are.
This lavish grace convinces us that we can be something beautiful, that we ARE something beautiful despite the cracked places in our cistern. His lavish mercy transforms the cracks of brokenness into cracks from abundance bursting forth from being unable to contain the joy His goodness brings.
Mercy. Not definable through words, but only definable through experience. The kind where we look back and say, “Yes, that right there was mercy.” We hear the story of the prodigal son over and over again thinking it is a sweet sentimental story, but have a hard time relating to it, because we haven't strayed THAT far. Or, does our pride protect from seeing that we actually have?
Pride is probably the most prominent sin in our American church. The tricky thing about pride though is that it is blinding so we don't even realized that it's there. Often built up as a shield which covers other sins that “aren't there.” The good news is that God, in His mercy, has a cure for the sin of pride-it's called falling. This Biblical truth demonstrated throughout scripture can be summed up in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall” (NLT).
My husband Jason has a thing about falling. He thinks it is absolutely hilarious when, and I quote, “pretty girls fall.” In particular, he is referring to me. Why in his odd sense of humor does he think this is funny? “Because, you just look so put together and perfect, so when you trip or fall, it reminds me that you are human.” Oh my, as twisted as his humor might seem, there is a nugget of truth here. No matter how much we try to convince ourselves and others that we have it all together through the use of appearance, success, money, spirituality, etc., we are all wandering sojourners looking for something to fix our brokenness and fill our emptiness. And often times throughout our journey, we fall.
Our souls cry out like newborn babies, “Fill me!” “See me!” Through the successes, strivings, and distractions, the cries are there in every human soul. Unfortunately out of fear, we tend to pretend they aren't, molding a perfect mask of pride that fits just right to maneuver us through this life. We believe that our pride protects our fragile ego and through it we can even convince ourselves that we are something we are not. We are not broken, needy, or inadequate; certainly not! But it is exactly this brokenness that will (if we allow it) nurture a beautiful dependence on God and bring us redemption and healing. However, usually we insist on walking in our pride, our own way of dealing with things. And God will allow us to walk in it, even falling before we realize our unquenchable need.
The other night I was able to actively demonstrate this truth in the Norfleet house. Jason and I were having a discussion at our dining room table. As we sat and discussed, I began to get heated and slightly sassy. Ok very sassy. For those of you who know me, I know the sassy part is hard to imagine, but yes, it happens. I did not like having to account for my personal spending. I got so frustrated that I got up from my chair and began to pace into the kitchen to get the receipt my husband had requested. And this wasn't just any pacing, it was stomping! Stomping in very high heels and my pin striped skirt I had worn on set that day. I looked good (and I knew it) and very put together, but I stunk of a prideful attitude. I grabbed the receipt and stomped back into the dining room to sit down. Well, in all my sassy pacing I went to sit back down and something mysteriously happened (divine intervention maybe?) to where my backside did not end up in the chair, but on the floor! It happened so quickly that I honestly don't know what happened. All I knew was that I was suddenly lying on my back in my pin striped skirt and heels with pain shooting from my backside and right arm. It was a rough fall. So rough that I discovered scratches and bruises from this fall the next day.
I can't say that I physically fall that often, but if I do it's not really all that painful, and I get right back up. This time was different, though. Because of my pain, I had to lie there a minute (or a few) before getting back up on my feet again. As a lay there I purposefully scrunched my nose and clenched my jaw so I would not bust out laughing. I clung to my pride and was determined to remain angry. I glared at Jason as if to say, “This is all your fault.” Jason, however, did not feel the need to control his laughter. He laughed and laughed and laughed, until he began to cry. And I continued to lie on the hardwood floor between the wall and the chair. In fact, I laid there about five minutes or so before Jason could compose himself enough to reach out his hand and help me up.
And this is the merciful part. God lets us stay down long enough to feel the impact of our fall; to feel the depth of our pain. The more we realize the depth of our pain, the more we realize our need for Him to reach out His hand and help us up and to even continue clinging to His hand afterward. If He did not let us feel our own pain long enough, we would continue to make the same mistakes, eventually bearing a fruitless life and certainly a shallow relationship with God. Which ultimately would end up being quite miserable. Yes, falling hurts, but this is where we find mercy.
And through experiencing His mercy we begin to discover His goodness and kindness towards us as His children. We really are that prodigal son no matter how spiritual we think we are. The prodigal son went out far enough to realize just how much He needed to stay close to his father. We do this all the time whether we realize it or not.
Pride may appear that it will fill your need, but it will leave you on the ground. It is a type of deception that covers and blankets over insecurities by whispering pompous lies about who and what you are and what will fulfill your needs. “You are more spiritual than them.” “Money will make you feel significant.” “Being beautiful will help you get what you want.” What these insecurities really need is Jesus.
“Come let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now He will heal us. He has injured us; now He will bandage our wounds. In just a short time He will restore us, so that we may live in His presence!” Hosea 6:1,2 (NLT)
“In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)