By Mark A. Taylor
Did you ever fall without anticipating it? No slow-motion loss of balance before your arm flew out to break the impact—you didn’t even realize you had fallen till you were on the ground.
That was my experience last week in a restaurant parking lot on a frigid morning. “Oh, I’ve hit my head,” I said, moving to stand up as soon as I landed. I raised my hand to the pain on my pate and brought back a bloody palm. I have to wash my hand, I thought, and walked back inside.
Thankfully, a couple of friends were there, still chatting after our Thursday-morning men’s breakfast had broken up. I emerged from the restroom with a wad of paper towel pressed to my scalp.
“Mark, do you need some help?”
“Mark, let me walk you to your car.”
The second friend assessed my condition and said, “Let’s go to the urgent care.”
I drove behind him, steering with one hand and applying paper-towel pressure with the other. The events of the last 10 minutes were swirling around in my brain, out of order. It was as if I were trying to reconstruct details of a dream.
We drove into the urgent care parking lot after 7:30, and the place wasn’t yet open. “You know, I don’t completely remember what just happened,” I said, and my friend became more concerned.
“Let me drive you to the ER,” he said. So I hopped out of my car, locked it, and eased into his.
The rest of the story is all care and cure. By the time my wife met us at the ER, efficient nurses had numbed my scalp and inserted 5 staples to mend the wound. A CAT scan confirmed no concussion. A doctor told me I’d be OK. I had been picked up and put back together again.
In retrospect, I’m struck by (a) how quickly I fell and how helpless I was to stop it; (b) how many folks it took to remedy the damage created by my fall; (c) how gentle they were with me, protecting my ego while firmly moving me toward healing; and (d) how well prepared the medical professionals were to deal with a wound like mine.
Spiritual parallels abound. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Paul said (Romans 3:23). But so often we seem surprised or angry when we see another’s missteps. “If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him,” he told the Galatians (6:1, The Message). But sometimes we act as if the sinner should restore himself. And we may forget how prone to failure we are. “You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else” (1 Corinthians 10:12, The Message).
Sometimes sin is more complicated than an accident on an icy parking lot. But in the end, all falls look remarkably alike. Scriptural mandate and my accident last week have reminded me what a person needs most when he’s down. After the fall a firm hand, a gracious helper, and a proven remedy are the best steps toward restoration.