“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion….Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, 12
“Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” We’ve all heard that plea on TV. Falling becomes more painful, more threatening as we grow older.
I remember some significant falling…all in one day.
I had just turned 25, and a delightful fellow named Kenny Lentz from Spruce Pine, North Carolina, offered to treat me to a day at Beech Mountain ski resort, close to where I live now. I had never been snow-skiing and jumped at the chance.
Kenny took me to the top of the bunny slope lift where I strapped on two narrow pieces of evil steel…and promptly fell down. Getting up required a Herculean effort, without any possibility of gracefulness. I proceeded to fall again…and again…and again. About every 15 feet or so. Going just a few hundred feet was totally exhausting. Kenny, bless his heart, helped me up as best he could, but then he treated me to a ski school lesson while he cruised the mountain on his own.
Afterward, back I went to the top of the bunny slope. This time, I fell maybe every 30 feet or so. Back to the little lift, back to the top. Over and over. Fewer falls each time.
When finally (on about my 11th attempt) I reached the bottom of the bunny slope without falling, I started screaming. YESSSSSS!!! I had finally discovered the official definition of success.
That evening, Kenny took me to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and I seem to recall something like the best meatloaf I have ever eaten…I was starved from the effort of constantly getting back up.
That was 40 years ago. In addition to falling that day, I fell in love with skiing—the sheer beauty of the mountains, the snow, the clean air, the adrenalin rush, the breathtaking views—a full-on experience of God’s creation in winter.
Many, many falls have followed me on the slopes over the years since then. Eventually, I became skilled enough to ski black diamond slopes (advanced) in my heyday. And I’m still skiing, although mostly now on blue (moderate) and green slopes (easy). When my daughter asked why I move more slowly, I replied, “It’s not FOMO, fear of missing out…it’s FOWO, fear of wiping out.”
Falling. Funny that it’s just one letter different from failing. After my last week’s blog on new beginnings, it’s important to face failure as something we’ll all experience with our new year’s resolutions, sooner or later. (Confession time: one of my goals is to lose weight this year, and I’ve already gained a few pounds!)
The real issue, though, isn’t failure. It’s fear of failure. FOWO, that fear of wiping out completely—a “yard sale” where skis, poles, gloves, and body parts all go in different directions on the snow. Fear of failure keeps us from getting started in the first place. Fear of defeat actually defeats us. Fear is the real enemy, not failure.
But, praise God for His presence with us! He is the Author of courage—the One whose perfect love casts out all fear. If He has given you a mission, a goal, a job, a plan, an obligation, a dream—He will equip you completely. He may strap you onto a pair of evil steel planks and send you hurtling on a slippery ride, but He will be there to pick you up and put you back on your feet when you fall.
And fall you will. It’s inevitable that you will not do everything perfectly. We’re all sinners, all coming up short in God’s eyes. He still loves us anyway and will accomplish His perfect will through our feeble efforts to follow Him. We will find our true success only in Him.
That first day of skiing for me? I could easily have given up, walked off, and never looked at a slope again. But I’m grateful for my friend Kenny’s help and encouragement. His one-day sacrifice for me turned into a lifetime of sweet fun that has blessed others—at least 11 of my family members took up skiing with me afterward, plus many more friends, too, including some I have taught to ski.
Don’t let FOWO stop you in 2020. Get started on your goals to serve Him. Get ready for the falls. And get back up. Again and again. He is holding out His hand to help you up, even now.
Gracious God, thank You for being our Heavenly Friend, the One who helps us back up when we fall. Thank You for saving us from our sins, for tossing our failures to the bottom of the ocean and not holding them against us. Thank You, O Jesus, for Your sacrifice for us, that we may not fail to be with You in heaven, no matter how much we fall! Give us grace to get back up and strive daily to be more like You. In grateful praise of Your name, Amen.
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