We’ll begin and end today with one word. One word we all know in a variety of places, experiences and context. One word that sometimes becomes a verb through action and a noun through substance. Both “fall” at opposite ends of the “fall” scale and give us plenty of food for thought today. As you’ve so readily guessed, the word for us to encounter and readily examine is “fall.”
We know the word fall in a very real and personal way this time of year. After a long, hot summer, who can’t wait for the temperatures to cool and the colors to explode? Fall is without a doubt my favorite Idaho season. There are so many opportunities outside, even with the shorter days. It is a terrific time for fishing, hikes, hunting, photography, river trips and a last gasp trip to the parks before winter settles in. That’s the “fall” we know and love as a noun. A person, place or thing with substance we can see, hear, smell and feel.
Now “fall” the verb is also just as formidable in its own way. Especially if we take into account one statement from the apostle Paul. I’ve been thinking about this single statement for some time, letting it settle in and take root.
But before we get to Paul, how about my favorite experience of fall? For years, we had horses, always had riding horses around as we built our new home. Dad loved race horses so they found their way into the stables — often!
We built our home south of Blackfoot in 1983 and were “fortunate” that in the early 1980s we really got dumped on by snow storm after snow storm. Well, one memorable spring, the temps warmed up as they always will and those piles of snow started melting.
With a full stable intact, that beautiful “lake” that formed around the house took on a decidedly red-brown coloring, thanks to the horses. You know the color I mean and exactly what caused that beautiful shade of red-brown. Well, one afternoon as we hurried for a trip into Blackfoot to the bank to cash that check and get some groceries, I hurried just a little too much. My cowboy boot overshoes weren’t nearly as secure as I might have wished on the “lakes” underlying ice and — you guessed it — I took a full “diving gainer” Mark Spitz would have been proud of, right into that red-brown paradise. Needless to say, it was shower time before we headed to the bank. Although, to add a positive spin, Sandy got a big laugh at my expense. So ends my favorite “fall” story! Back to Paul.
Now Paul had the seminal thought about falling in 1 Corinthians 10, “So if you think you’re standing firm, be careful you don’t fall.” I really shoulda kept that in mind on that long-ago wet spring day! Maybe a nice set of Trax on those overshoes coulda keep me safe and dry.
How about you today? What are you falling into? Are you feeling pretty firm and secure in your “standing”? Maybe something else is needed to keep you standing straight so you don’t find yourself on your keister! Honestly, as grounded as Paul was, he needed that simple reminder daily to keep him on track! Grounded, as connected to the One who always kept him upright.
I’m thinking, most days if you’re like me, we get pretty full of ourselves and think we can handle anything that comes. Simple fact is we can’t. We need help, whether it’s a set of Trax for the ice or a person who will always extend a hand, pull us up and say “Wow, that musta hurt! Let’s get you all cleaned up and back to business! The business of life.” So as you consider the word “fall” this week, remember the most lovely season to come and the most lovely Shepherd who will keep you standing tall and pick you up in your moment of need. Now there’s a “lift” you can bet the bank on!
Bob Stone is pastor of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Pocatello.