Life is a lot like walking.
Most of us have been walking for a really long time. Using our legs and our feet, walking is second nature. We walk from room to room at home. We walk around the office at work. We walk through the aisles of grocery stores. Some of us may even walk around the park or neighborhood for exercise. Walking is just another auto-pilot setting.
But sometimes, we fall down. Our legs and feet which have been so faithful to us suddenly fail. We trip up and skin our knees. Our pride is hurt and our egos are wounded, as if we have never fallen before in our entire lives. We are blindsided as we quickly become reacquainted with the concrete.
Sometimes, we live our lives on auto-pilot, too. Like the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle, we wash-rinse-repeat our way through the day: wake up, breakfast, work, lunch, work, dinner, free time, sleep, rinse and repeat.
To take this metaphor a step further, I think that we also have a tendency to live our spiritual lives on auto-pilot: read a few Bible verses each day, Wednesday night study groups, Sunday morning services, pray for others, maybe a good deed or two, rinse and repeat. But then, we fall down. Hard.
Have you ever fallen down?
If you're answer is "no", congratulations - but you should probably think a little more critically. For the rest of us, the answer is unfortunately "yes". Daily.
Although our walk with Jesus has been going so well for so long, we suddenly fall in a moment of weakness or temptation. Perhaps times have been stressful and we give-in to anger and anxiety, then take it out on the ones we love the most. Or maybe, a situation overwhelms us with grief and questioning, then we leave our hope in Christ altogether. We fall down.
King David fell down hard once. In the midst of a major war, he decided to stay home from the front lines of battle for some reason. Usually, he was valiantly leading the armies. Perhaps he was feeling ill this time, tired of the carnage, or just apathetic to the cause. Regardless, he wasn't where he was supposed to be, and his second-nature courage was a little bit lacking that day.
While sitting at home, he notices a beautiful woman bathing herself on the roof of the home next door. In a moment of weakness, he doesn't look away and instead lustfully gazes at her. That's the trip, but then David falls hard. He decides to have this woman brought to him and he sleeps with her, then sends her husband to the front lines of the war where the man will surely be killed, so that he can conceal his son and keep this woman as his new wife.
Have you ever fallen this hard? After being confronted by one of God's right-hand men, Nathan, David realizes his sins and writes a prayer-song to God. We know it as Psalm 51. I think we can learn a few things from David's response to his own sin. First, open up your Bible to Psalm 51, and listen to the beautiful musical rendition of it in the video above, sung by singer/songwriter Jon Foreman.
Do you feel the weight of King David's words? Here are 3 examples we can pull from the text of what to do when we fall down, when we are blindsided by our own sin.
1) Acknowledge - In verses 1-6, David acknowledges his sin before God. He pours out his guilt before all of Heaven without trying to cover it up. Raw emotions are exposed and expressed; the sin is no longer a secret anymore. Confessing and acknowledging when we fall is one of the first steps towards healing.
2) Pray - In verses 7-12, David prays boldly for God's forgiveness and redemption. He asks God to clean him and make him new again, strengthening him to follow more obediently. We can pray boldly like this too, right there on our knees from the rough concrete when we fall. God is a loving father and will listen to us in our brokenness.
3) Share - In verses 13-19, David vows to tell his story of repentance and redemption to others, glorifying God for His mercy and grace. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of falling down: we can help others keep an eye out for the crack that made us trip in the first place.
Ultimately, Psalm 51 is an honest and emotional prayer that accurately appeals to God's character from a contrite heart. When we fall, it is easy to feel like there are no words worth saying, but I encourage you to keep Psalm 51 in mind as you hit the concrete. Our God is a God not only of justice and discipline, but also of mercy and grace.
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES