Some life experiences remain indelible in our memory. One of such experiences happened to me in my pre-school years. It is actually among the earliest memories that I have of my self. One of my brothers, three years older than I, was my defacto playmate and so he too had a privilege to witness first hand, my experience.
Just like many other kids, we saw our house first and foremost as a playground, and secondarily as a shelter. I guess I was about four years old. Each of the house’s two bedrooms had four unusually wide shelves that were neatly arranged upward on one wall, towards the ceiling. My four older siblings had made the top shelf at my parents’ bedroom to be their day-hideout joint. They had stacked the shelf with story books and pillows, and they would often retreat there to play and relax. To a four year old’s mind, this was the coolest thing on earth.
The disturbing fact was that due to my height, I was never able to make it to the top shelf. The best I could do was reach the second shelf and envy my siblings having the time of their lives at the fourth shelf. However, I was determined to change this narrative. One day, my older brother and I (the two of us being the youngest in the family) were home alone with the house assistant. We got a brilliant idea to go and relax at the top shelf. I was not only lucky to have the required determination to go up the shelves, I also had a cheer leader to motivate me to do so.
Both of us needed a stool to help us place our feet on the first shelf (it shows you how short we were). My brother went first. It was an exercise that required precision and muscle, because we had to first place our feet on one shelf and concurrently, our hands would hold the next shelf. Then we would literally pull our bodies up until we climbed into the next shelf. That was to successfully happen three times, if I wanted to reach the coveted destination of shelf number four.
My brother went first. He was confident since he had made it to the top shelf before. I imagine that this time round, he even felt more “phantom 💪” because he was demonstrating to his small sister how to make it to the top. I watched him keenly, knowing that I would need to execute his tactics to reach the top. Within a short time, my brother was at the top and the time to conquer my limitation had come. I was ready! I was determined!
I stepped on the stool and onto the first shelf. The space next to the shelves was usually vacant and we had actually moved the stool to this space just to help us climb the shelves. I followed what I had observed my brother do to the letter. I could hear him cheer me on from the top. I could tell the excitement from his voice; he was ready to usher me in, into their world of classic relaxation. My hands held on firmly to shelf number two and with all my strength, I pushed my self up and was eventually able to climb into shelf two.
I gasped for air and then positioned my self to repeat the exercise into shelf three. I pulled myself up again and the joy of landing on shelf three was tangible. I was only a shelf away from the coveted destination, and it would soon be my reality. I caught my breadth and resumed to reposition my self to conquer the last step. Looking down from the fourth shelf, my brother’s eyes were right on mine, this time he was not saying much, perhaps just crossing his fingers that I do it right.
My feet on the third shelf, I lifted my hands to hold the fourth shelf. Sadly, before I could hold the fourth shelf well, one of my foot stepped on something that made me slip. Everything after that happened terribly fast. I saw my self in the air falling backwards. My brother’s face was now one of “electrocuted phantom” (just joking 😅); to be honest I did not have time to think about him.
The first thing I remembered was the stool we had used. It was the only thing on the space next to the shelves, so it was either I would have hit the ground or the stool hard. The second thing I remembered was my need to repent because I knew I might die from the accident (thank God I knew how to pray because my parents had taken me to church at an early age). I made a simple prayer, “God I know I have not been a good girl, forgive me and receive me in heaven.” Then I closed my eyes hard to await my fate.
The next thing that happened is that I opened my eyes only to find my self lying on my back, placed on the stool. I had actually felt a presence gently place me on that stool. Today, I know that God’s angel did place me on the stool. Of course I was shaken to the core. Even with our young minds, we understood that something divine had happened. We understood that I had escaped from a serious accident. My brother quickly came down the shelves and advised that we go to bed and sleep (that is how shaken we were!).
During the 2019 Christmas holiday, my brother and I recalled this story and told it to our parents, this time with much laughter. We let the cat out on our childhood mischief.
From the time of my fall, it took me an year or so later, to safely reach the coveted shelf number four. However, one thing has remained beyond doubt, that on that particular day, God’s hand rescued me while on a free fall. I do not know what could have been the result if God had not intervened; whether a broken limb or a head concussion, only God knows. We are forever grateful that God’s hand reached out to me when there was no way of escape.
Science can never explain what I experienced that day. You see, even if I had fallen exactly back to the same position where I had started my ascent from, I would not have safely lay on the stool. I would have most likely hit it with a thud and then fallen to the ground. The law of gravity required that I hit something (the ground or the stool) with the force occasioned by my velocity and weight. That day, God over-rid the laws of gravity to rescue a little girl.
This week, I have felt an unusual impression to share this story. Perhaps those going through a free fall in an aspect of their life can relate with my fears as I fell back-fast towards the ground. Perhaps some can relate to the helplessness that comes with a fall that you know you can do nothing about. Perhaps some know the disappointment of having been so close to a breakthrough and then slipping away from it into an uncontrollable downward fall. Perhaps some are at that point where you have closed your eyes and are waiting for the outcome- may be a broken rib, fractured limb or fatal head injury.
The good news is, God’s hand is swift and able to reach out to you, hold you and place you onto a safe landing! The physical reality are the facts before you and it is okay to acknowledge that what confronts you is beyond your human ability. The truth however is that God is not over with you yet. The things that confront you are not to destroy you and so you can bank on God’s rescuing hand to come through for you. There is no dungeon that is too dark for God; no pit that is too deep for God; no mire that is too messy for God; no valley that is too difficult for God. Nothing, absolutely nothing fashioned against you, will destroy you. This needs to be the faith in which you live by.
What does God require of you while in that situation that feels like a “free fall”?
We can learn from the life of Job. Job, though a blameless and upright man, who feared God and shunned evil, faced testing. Not once, but twice, he was tested. Job moved from being a wealthy, prosperous and respected man to losing all his wealth and children in a single day. Job (unlike the adventurous little me 😊) had not done any wrong to cause his troubles. If anything, God’s boast of his righteousness had made Satan to request for permission to test him.
Job lost seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen, five hundred donkeys, a large number of servants, seven sons and three daughters, in one single day. Everything happened so fast and Job was on his free fall. Humanly speaking, Job should have entered into depression or may be he should have suffered a nervous breakdown or a heart attack. However, his response to the situation is noteworthy:
Job mourned– Job faced the facts and expressed his grieve for the loss. Faith does not deny fact. Instead, faith chooses to trust God, in spite of the facts. During your free fall, do not deny the facts, do not suppress your feelings, but CHOOSE FAITH IN GOD.
Job 1:20a At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.
Job worshipped– Job had an eternal perspective of life such that he admitted that, what he owned was very temporary and its source was God. He acknowledged that all his possessions, including his children, was not a right but a blessing from God. The giver had the right to take away the blessings whenever He chose to. Job understood that God is forever worthy of praise, irrespective of our loss, pain, grief, disappointment and misfortunes. During your free fall, GUARD YOUR PRAISE.
Job 1:20b-21 Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Job guarded his mouth– It was expected for Job to murmur and grumble before God, and accuse Him of being unjust. He could have accused God of repaying righteousness with pain and shame. However, Job understood the Sovereignty of God and he did submit to His Lordship. No wander he never charged God of wrongdoing. Your tongue, normally speaking from the abundance of your heart, is a great weapon for in it lies life and death. In a time of turmoil, do not allow your emotions to overrun you, such that you speak defeat, shame, dishonor and death. During your free fall, TAME YOUR TONGUE.
Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job 2:10b In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Job’s response is not the usual, expected human response. Assuming that Job’s wealth was a business corporation, the corporation’s CEO upon encountering such massive losses would have called a special board meeting to brain storm on the crisis and rushed helter-skelter to at least salvage something, albeit little. Job’s response, on the contrary, is one of rest. It is one of utmost surrender.
Such a response is only possible when a person has a personal relationship with God. God was no stranger to Job. Job knew God, and for this reason he stood his ground even when his own health was in danger and his dear wife failed to understand his faith. In times of shaking, what truly matters is your relationship with God- not even your Pastor’s faith is enough to help you.
Job 13:15a Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; ….
Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes- I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Just as I called on to the God I knew, as a four year old girl, in my minute of crisis, you too will be required to call and trust God in your hour of need. You can only hold fast to God if your faith is firmly rooted in Him. Such rooting is personal and not congregational. Your faith must be founded on an absolute trust in God; the God whom you have known and experienced as a person. Such faith can be likened to that of a little girl who trusts his Father’s ability to save, even in the most grim situation. Such faith is founded on the understanding of God’s immeasurable and unconditional love.
Just like in my case and in the case of Job, God’s eyes are on you even as you be in your free fall. During our fall, our faith is tested and it is brought forth as gold (Job 23:10). We gain a right perspective of our lives as well as the world and its offerings. More importantly, we experience God. Our test becomes a testimony that no human philosophy or religious argument can take away. Our eyes get a privilege to see God, and our hearts are forever imprinted with the divine encounter.
Job 42:5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Your fall is not your end. Perhaps for some, you have started getting accustomed to the conditions of your fall and you are slowly resigning your mind and heart to settle at the dungeon or in the valley. God’s plan for you is good; it is for a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust Him to bring you back (restore) to a place of higher glory. Only believe. Job’s life’s ending is a testimony of God’s Faithfulness. Only rest in God’s Faithfulness.
Job 42:12-17 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.
He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.
And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.
Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
I do not know what may have caused your free fall situation. For some perhaps it is not even one challenge but rather several misfortunes happening concurrently. God has got your back. Trust God that He will show case the glory of His Might through you.
Join me in making this prayer:
Dear Lord, I am in distress. I realize my helplessness and apart from you I cannot carry the weight of all that confronts me. It is dark Lord, and yet I acknowledge that you are the light. It is scary, and yet I realize that you are always with me. I ask for your intervention in my situation. I ask that you may help me to remain steadfast in faith even as I wait on your deliverance and restoration.
I worship you Lord, because even in my situation, you are faithful. I thank you for what you are working in me in this season, because my faith is being brought forth as gold. I receive your victory. I entrust my self to your hand that is able to give me a safe and victorious landing. Receive my adoration, for you are worthy of worship. Amen.