Getting back up is up to us
Have you ever seen the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness,” starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas? It’s really a good flick and illustrates a concept that I have had to take to heart many times.
In the movie, which is based on a true story, a construction camp in Africa is harassed by man-eating lions. These lions are unusual because they kill for sport, which made the movie downright creepy in a few parts. As the plot thickens, Kilmer, who plays engineer Col. John Henry Patterson, has a chance to kill one of the lions and fails. Afterward, he feels terrible, especially after professional hunter Charles Remington (Douglas) chastises him for making an error that hunters usually don’t make.
Remington is a good guy though. After he chastises Patterson he said, “We have an expression in prize fighting: ‘Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.’ Well my friend, you’ve just been hit. The getting up is up to you.”
Proverbs 24:16 says, “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again ...” According to the Puritan minister Matthew Henry, this means that a “sincere soul falls as a traveler may do, by stumbling at some stone in his path; but gets up and goes on his way with more care and speed ...”
Henry said that the fall should be understood as adversity rather than actual sin and in the context of the other verses surrounding it, he is correct. I also think, however, that this is also a good principle to remember when we commit sin or, perhaps, when we have unintentionally hurt someone. First John 1:9 says that whenever we confess our sins God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In addition to this, we also have to forgive ourselves.
Many of us, including myself, have a hard time forgiving ourselves when we’ve done something wrong. We ask for God’s forgiveness, but that doesn’t stop us from wallowing in self-pity or self-blame. I’m sure that God understands this because he knows that we don‘t want to do wrong; however, when this happens, I picture him saying something similar to what Remington told Patterson in that African jungle.
Yes, there are times when we may fall. Life is not easy, but that doesn’t mean we should lose faith and quit. We should put the incident in the past, get back up, dust ourselves off, make amends, if necessary, and keep on going. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it is an essential part of life.