The Lord lifts the fallen and those bent beneath their loads.
Psalm 145:14 TLB
Have you had to carry a load lately, Dear Reader? Maybe it was a load of groceries after going through the pickup line at Walmart. Or maybe a load of laundry, or a sleeping child. What if someone had offered to carry your load? Would that have felt a little awkward, or an offer of help seeming unusual?
But what about the loads that really matter, the ones that bend us nearly to the breaking point? Maybe there have been times we have nearly fallen into complete despair because an economy caused our retirement stocks to fall dangerously low. Perhaps a dream job, or perfect house, or soul mate fell short of our hopes and expectations. In a time that was not wracked with life-consuming loads, God chose to remind me that He’s there to raise me up when I’m bent low or take a fall.
After a seventeen year lapse, marriage, and two kids, I started back to college one January. Not just January, but January in Missouri (fickle mistress of debilitating ice storms) at “the college on the hill”. The day I enrolled, schools throughout the area closed due to a snow storm. My first day of classes I was already scared to death by my journey into the unknown, Dear Reader, before slipping and sliding into the icy parking lot.
There was no way I’d be able to get back to my car between classes, so my backpack was fully loaded. I could barely move because of all the layers I was wearing, layers I’d be thankful for very quickly.
I clung to the side of the car, barely keeping my balance as I wrestled the forty pound backpack out of the car. On my first day, I hadn’t learned the art and finesse of slinging the pack into just the right spot on my shoulder…without jerking my feet out from under me.
I thought the twenty-plus steps between the student parking lot to the “quad” of academic buildings was the first obstacle in getting to class on time. So, thinking myself to be cautious and clever, I decided to try and manuever up the curved driveway. Unfortunately, Dear Reader, I didn’t take into account that meant no handrails, nothing but air to try and grab hold of. BIG MISTAKE! (So much for cautious and clever.)
A couple of very hesitant steps and a couple of minutes was all it took…the load of books I was carrying held tight, and the rest of me splattered on the ice. The steps going up the the quad, the icy driveway, they weren’t the biggest obstacles after all to getting to class. The biggest obstacles were my arrogance and misplaced focus.
I don’t know how long I laid there, or which was worse the pain, the cold, or the humliation (although I didn’t see anyone around right then). I remember laying there, afraid to let tears of frustration from not knowing what to do next leak out and freeze on my face. Not exactly an auspicous re-entry to college life.
Over thirty years later, Dear Reader, I can’t remember what classes I was headed for, no clue. What I distintcly remember is the two guardian angels in a college golf cart who drove by at the exactly right moment. They offered me a ride to class, and helped my load of embarassment, helplessness, books, and pain into the cart.
My first lessons returning to college have stayed with me like none other. That day, I learned God isn’t clueless, and does care about every single load we carry. And just as importantly, in His great mercy, Dear Reader, God doesn’t necessarily wait until we can eloquently articulate our need in the moment, although sometimes I think God waits patiently hoping we will lean into Him, and trust Him to raise us up.
When I reflect on today’s Scripture, it makes me think the psalmist probably took a few falls. Haven’t we all, Dear Reader? Since Adam and Eve, falls have been a part of life. We may not be able to avoid them all, but praise God, His grace is great enough to raise us up whether we crumble a little or crash to our knees. What’s your dearest memory of the Lord raising you up from a fall, Dear Reader?