As I write this, I happen to have six friends of various ages who have lately fallen, all under different circumstances. Several of them are repeat fallers. I am encore-adapting a topic from my recently published book, STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT because our “fallen state” becomes all the more apparent in our calendar-challenged years.
“Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!” The image of a woman lying helpless on the floor flashed across my TV screen. An often repeated statistic flagged me: “One out of three people over sixty-five will fall this year.” Since I'm in that age category, advertisers target me persuasively to buy an alert button to hang as a pendant around my neck. They promise that if I press the button, I will be rescued in the probable event of a fall.
A few of my friends who are advancing in age are trying preventive maintenance. They enroll voluntarily in a rehab class for instruction and exercise to increase their mobility and improve their balance. Both physical and spiritual balance are in danger in our summit season of life. We tend to totter and wobble more than a bit when we walk. (On the physical side, I listed twenty of the everyday hazards that might precipitate a fall in Chapter 8, “Maintaining Our Balance,” in my above mentioned book.)
Accidental falls happen to the toddler and to the advanced-in-life totterer and to anyone in between. The small child is just learning to walk and gets up readily from a tumble after a few tears. Because a little one is closer to the floor, the bumps and bruises are not usually critical. Sufficient baby fat cushions the fall. The older person, having been a veteran walker for a lifetime, may become careless and unaware of the lack of balance that naturally comes with aging. A fall is usually more serious for us because our bones are more brittle and there is less natural padding. We easily become black and blue or end up with broken bones. As senior adults, we should learn to watch our step.
Most of the above physical warnings can translate into spiritual warnings. Although I have been a longtime Christian, I'm still in danger of losing my spiritual balance and falling. The road of life may be getting rougher. I face an uncertain future. I tend to shuffle instead of walking erect and alert and focusing on where I am going. I can lose my spiritual bearings.
Some unexpected trauma threatens to topple me. I may not be as careful to walk in God's full light as I did in the fervor of my first love for Christ. I must be careful not to carry too much baggage of the past; it may drag me down to a fall. My attachments to this earthly life may become too strong. If my spiritual feet are tired and weak from the length of life's journey, I may need spiritual orthotics in my shoes to maintain my walk with the Lord. I may not hear God's whisper of guidance as clearly as I did when I was in a more intimate relationship with Him. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is available as my hearing aid.
Jesus warned us to watch and pray so we will recognize the particular temptations of our life road and not stumble. I must not let my spiritual vision to become clouded with the cataracts of the passing things of this world. Along my pathway are sins which can so easily beset me and upset me. They cause me to fall if my spiritual eyes aren't fixed on the Lord. My feet may get tangled up in the trivia of the temporal and down I go spiritually. If I'm not progressing in my faith and trust in God, I slip backward and eventually take a spill. If I don't keep my spiritual knees strong by kneeling in worship or worshiping in my spirit, I will join my peers who head for knee and hip replacements.
Only with my heart continually turned to prayer can I keep from fainting from the weariness of advancing age. Some of us in our senior years settle for the rocking chair posture too soon and fall from weakness caused by physical inactivity. On the other hand, some of us tend to excessively hurry because the time left on earth seems so brief; we trip and fall too. I should trust Jesus to show me His will for both my physical and spiritual pace at each season of my life.
I must beware of elevating myself with high heels of pride for my achievements and turn an ankle and take a tumble. “Pride goes before a fall,” the Scripture declares. I must not be drunk with the luxuries and comforts of this world which the evil one designs to keep me from walking the straight line of righteousness.
In my advanced years my spinal discs may compress or deteriorate and I may lose a few inches in height. Applied spiritually, I might “lose my backbone” by no longer standing up straight for the moral and spiritual issues I once stood for so enthusiastically. Spiritual sciatica may set in.
Let's avoid a spiritual "Oops!" To be a faithful child of God, I should obtain whatever spiritual alignment correction is necessary to keep walking tall in my spirit without wavering or falling—all the way to the Finish Line.