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FALLING….BUT NOT FALLEN

September 29th, 2016

By Barry Hatfield

I took a fall recently.

It’s something that we of the ‘older generation’ are prone to do.

Just a quick slip on wet grass in our sloping backyard … and a micro-second later I was on the ground with shoulder and wrist on my right side taking the impact. It could have been much worse. The pain, stiffness and joint immobility came later that day as swelling cut in. Cold packs and bed-rest speeded recovery.

But … (there always seems to be a ‘but’), the real discomfort began to creep in immediately and it concerned how I had been seeing myself as a ‘senior’ – up until then. And it wasn’t all that pleasant.

I had taken a fall.

I had ‘known’ that older folk appeared to topple over more than the virile, stronger, younger generation surrounding us, but suddenly I was up there with those of the ‘fallen’, it seemed.

I discovered I was vulnerable. And I didn’t like it. It wasn’t funny. It was a little disconcerting. Was this the start of something inevitable, irreversible for someone of my age?

Sadly, the answer is yes – to a degree.

Since that day, I’ve been having mild bouts of ‘vulnerability-itus’. I’m finding that where once, in earlier days, I boldly stepped, I now foresee a pathway seemingly mined with booby traps specially crafted for my particular age group.

Yet this is nothing new. Our physical bodies don’t carry a lifetime warranty, despite our attempts at regular care and maintenance and careful driving. It’s just that we tend not to want to think about the limitations on our chassis until we’re confronted with an incident on the highway of life.

I clearly remember when I was a teenager, my 80 year-old grand-mother slipping on a linoleum floor and landing on her shoulder (much as I did). The injury was not serious, but the mental-emotional-physiological shock triggered deeply locked-away memories of childhood that she continually verbalised to the gathered family that evening. As a youngster I found it confronting. And all because of a fall.

Yes, our old bodies are vulnerable to trauma — and not necessarily of our own doing. If we were left to fend for ourselves we could find the going very rough indeed. Thankfully, we’re not alone, whether we safely ride the storm of life without the need of a lifeboat; or find ourselves in rough water without a life-jacket and heading for jagged rocks.

With all this falling business that older people often suffer (along with many other issues of life) God seems to have set an ‘Early Warning System that, if we’re alert enough, we can sense what could be ahead – and so take measures to skirt around potential road-blocks to a more productive walk in our later years.

Feeling vulnerable (but not frightened) is one such warning. The present world glorifies senseless risk-taking; the results of which we see in our daily news. In contrast, members of Christ’s church value their body and the longer they live the more they rely on His Grace to sustain and nurture what they’ve been given to use for Him.

Knowing we’re vulnerable (that word again) to the physical impositions of this aging life spreads a reality blanket over us when minor and major incidents surface unexpectedly – even a slip on the grass!

God’s awareness of this ‘vulnerability’ is a comfort. He wants his aged people to live productively within the bounds of their physicality so that their spiritual journey may bring Him all the glory.

As aged, we will probably ‘fall’ at some time in our human frailness and physical weakness and suffer the painful effects for a season. Despite this though, we’re given a solid promise in 2 Peter 1:10 for what is vastly more important than the increasing effects of aging on our physical bodies. Here it is:

‘Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall….

Now that’s re-assuring. But he isn’t finished. Rather than promising a support mechanism to prevent us toppling over in our later years, we’re given far more than any assistance package man could ever offer the weary, infirm, damaged, wounded, aged and injured of this life.

‘…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’

We may have falls in this life, but we’re certainly not of … the fallen.

Over 60's

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