This morning I woke up particularly early.  At 4:15 am, I decided to go for my daily walk.  I put on my headphones, turned on my text-to-audio app, and listened to a book. The book I have been listening to recently on my walks is Transforming Mission Theology by Charles Van Engen. As I began my walk, I realized the AQI was higher than usual, and the humidity was very high.   It did not take long for my body to respond to the humidity and poor air quality, but I trudged on.  When I listen to a book, my mind begins to process and think through all the information I hear. 

I find points I like, questions, and points I need clarification on.  I sometimes find myself engrossed in a conversation with the author.  While this is not a bad thing, one does have to be careful when walking about how much one allows their mind to engage in conversation. You see, in Chiang Mai, the sidewalks, if there are any, are torn up and not easy to walk on in many areas.  This is true in the area I walk.  One must watch the surrounding area and where you place your feet.  If you are not careful, you can twist an ankle or even trip and fall. Usually, I am good at making sure of where I am walking, even when it is dark with only streetlights on.

However, today, I became engrossed in the book and topic, and my conversation with the author’s material in my mind took over.  At times I did not remember walking by specific places. As you can imagine, I became so focused on my conversation with the author’s material that I lost sight of my walking and surroundings.  I hit an uneven part of the walkway, my ankle twisted, and down I went. I had not fallen in a long time, so it was surreal. It was like slow motion; down I went, first the twist, then the stumble, the too-long way down to the ground and dirt. I landed face down on my left side, hands and arms out before me. I did not take long to turn over and examine the damage. I sat myself up and dusted off the dirt on my left side. As I looked around, a truck passing by saw my grand acrobatic adventure and slowed down.  I could tell they were checking to make sure I was all right.

I realized the person was slowly going to make sure I got up. So up I went, continuing to dust off and start to walk.  I was sore in my ankle, leg, arm, and back.  I was well into my three-mile walk and almost home, so I continued. Hot, dripping wet from the humidity, I made it home, washed up to clean the dirt off, and checked my left arm and leg. 

Why do I write this?  Well, it just so happened that the author talked about a few themes: missing the mark and sin and how people can lose sight of God and his mission. He was talking about the responsive and unresponsive to the gospel of Jesus Christ, delving into scripture about both and the response the church of Christ needs to have to both.  I was reminded, after my fall, how quickly one can become so focused on one area of life that one can lose sight of other critical areas. This includes one’s spiritual journey.  They can find themselves tripped up and falling.  They can find themselves lying flat on their face, sore and even embarrassed.  But the reality is you do not have to stay down; you can get yourself pulled back up; even though you may have some dirt and soreness, you can continue the journey and move forward to complete the goal you set from the beginning.  In fact, like the truck driver who slowed down to make sure I got back up, it can be seen as God watching over us. He is there to help us with our needs and spiritual journey.  Sometimes when we fall and get back up and cleaned up, we still deal with some of the processions of soreness, like I am now as I write these words.  I still feel sore in my wrist, elbow, knee, and back.  What have I learned? Well, don’t get too involved in listening to the words and engaging in conversation of a book that I ignore the danger lurking nearby. By observing my surroundings, I can protect myself from life’s physical and spiritual pitfalls.  However, if I do fall, I do not have to stay there; I can overcome the fall.  Be encouraged when we miss the mark and fall; we can learn from the situation and move forward in life and our spiritual journey. We also know that God is watching over us to help us when we need his help. 

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