When we fall
In 2004, I moved my family to a new state, 1500 miles away from what we knew as home. The job I was going to was one that I had done before, so I was completely confident that I could hit the ground running. I was excited to use my skillset in a new environment and among new people. Of course, before they turned me loose, I had a training program to complete. What I thought was going to be no big deal ended up having a few bumps in the road.
Maybe it was the time off between jobs, maybe it was nervousness…but I found myself making little mistakes that either made it more difficult to complete the task at hand or it meant that the testing was invalid and had to be repeated. Internally, I was getting really frustrated with myself. Externally, I would make weak attempts at joking as I would blame the mistakes on me trying to “knock the rust off”. But the mistakes kept happening at a pace that made me uncomfortable, and I knew people were watching.
I began to wonder if there was some “unofficial limit” as to how many mistakes I could make before they would just give up on me. I was being brought in to not only perform testing and provide expertise, but I was also going to be leading my own team. “How can a supposed leader make this many mistakes?” I worried. We were new in town, without any family nearby. What would happen to us if I continued to muck things up and my worst fear was realized?
After one particularly frustrating mistake, looked at my trainer and asked how many more of these was I allowed before they kicked me out. She just laughed as she walked away and said, “Don’t worry, Ken. We’re not going to throw you overboard. We’ve invested too much money in you to do that.”
Now to her, I’m sure it was just a minor comment. Too me, it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted. And then I realized…she was right. This company had paid for our move and given us three months of short-term housing – they had invested a lot in me and expected to get a return. They were willing to put up with a few do-overs, especially in training, as I learned the ropes and re-focused my skills. Because of their patience, I was able to succeed in a variety of roles for the company, even ones that I couldn’t have foreseen at that initial time.
We have the same worries in our relationship with God, don’t we? Even after we trust Jesus with our eternal destiny, we’re still going to struggle with sin. That’s just part of life as a redeemed human being. But we often wonder…What if I screw up too many times? What if I really blow it in a big way, with one of those “big” sins? Will God just toss me aside, because that’s what I would deserve.
I love that God is a realist.
We like to sugar-coat our flaws and exaggerate our strengths, but He sees us exactly as we are. He’s not surprised when we sin. He knows we’re not going to live out this new life with Him perfectly. He loves us and trains us like a perfect parent – with patience, support, and guidance.
In the middle of Psalm 37, David recognizes this truth.
A man’s steps are established by the Lord,
and He takes pleasure in his way.
Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed,
because the Lord holds his hand.
An accurate translation of the third line could also read, When he falls, he will not be cast aside. God knows the path He wants us to walk with Him. He truly delights in making the journey with us. And when we fall, He is there to catch us.
Truthfully, He’s invested too much in us to just walk away. Jesus, the most valuable person in the universe, paid for us to move into God’s family. The Lord is holding our hand as we walk through this life, learning the ropes and developing our skills. We are being prepared for life in Eternity Future. God’s not going to give up on us here.