Get back up, again!
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
“Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.” –Proverbs 24:15-16 (ESV)
I have learned that failing and falling are essential to excellence. When I learned to ride a bicycle, I fell. Several times. When I learned to skate, I fell, several times. When I became more confident and began learning tricks on the bicycle and my skates, I fell again, often. But, I fell with a bit more grace and with determination, then I got back up and tried again.
In karate classes, one of the first and most important lessons is how to fall, how to roll and how to quickly recover. When learning to play scales on my flute and cello, I did not get it right. As I practiced, over and over, my hand placement and breathing became synchronized with the notes on the sheet music. Pretty soon, instead of noise, I was making music.
The text above is one of 30 wisdom sayings found in the middle of the book of Proverbs. The first of them is in Proverbs 22:17. They are what I call a compendium for character development. They were written in Hebrew, but they seem to reflect a similar collection of wisdom sayings from Egyptian literature, attributed to the philosopher Amenemope. This may suggest that character and faith development is similar in every culture.
The development of a person’s character demands repetition in failure. The repetition creates confidence. Confidence leads to mastery. In the process of falling, failing and recovering, grit and determination become a part of our personality. The fundamentals of success become automatic.
In contrast, when a person does not fall, fail and learn how to recover and try again, there is less confidence. Fear, unwillingness to persevere, closed mindedness, shortsighted pessimism and lack of adventure are traits that accompany those who will not risk falling or failure. These are those who are overwhelmed when they meet crisis and calamity.
By the time I was five years old, I was riding my bicycle without training wheels. Since then, I have almost always owned a bicycle. Last year, while following my son who was also riding his bicycle, I fell, again. We were about two miles from home. As life had taught me, I got up, mounted the bike again and rode home.
The gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin, popularized this concept with his song “We Fall Down.” He said, “We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up.” Falling is not failure and failure is not fatal. Failure in deeds are lessons learned. Failing to try is failure indeed.
As you rise and meet today, do so with the confidence learned from the times in your past when you fell or failed. You are still here. You know what did not work. Get back up, again. Do it, again! Instead of being bitter, get better!
Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for today. Please unfold Your desire for me. Put within me the grit, discernment and desire to grasp what you have placed out there. Help me to use Your mercy and gifts to be all that I can be and to help others. Make me a blessing in the path of someone else. If I should stumble and fall, if I should fail in some endeavor, please make me rise. Make it so that when I rise, that I learn, that I grow and that I thrive. Be with others who like me have fallen or failed. Put within them the buoyancy and resilience to get back up again. As they do, let them see success and be successful, for your glory and according to your will, I pray. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.
You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address, firstname.lastname@example.org.