I was leaving work one day last week with my bag on my shoulder, although it felt like my bag and half my belongings. I had put way too much in my bag and it was much heavier than usual.
I took the same stairwell I have used for twenty years to leave the hospital, and as usual, I let my hand simply graze across the top of the handrail as I made my descent. Only this time my descent was quite a bit faster than I expected.
My foot hit the edge of the tread, instead of square on it, and I began a fast tumble down the stairs. It was one of those times when things that are happening fast seem to be happening slowly. My foot hit the bottom railing, bending all my toes back behind my foot. My knee hit the edge of the stair tread removing some of the skin of my knee-cap. As I rolled and tumbled down four of the steps, various parts of my body crashed against the stairs, as I was to discover by pockets of soreness over the next couple of days.
When I finally came to a halt, I sat on the stair upon which I had landed and scooted on my backside down each remaining step until I reached the landing. I was not ready to try any more stairs yet. Carefully, I stood up and brushed myself off, mentally and physically. I took account of my body parts trying to determine if anything was in need of more medical assistance than a bruised nurse could give. That is one comforting thing about hurting yourself in a hospital, it isn’t far to go for help.
To add insult to my literal injuries, two nurses from the Nursery came down the stairwell about that time. They watched me hobble very slowly down the remaining flight, holding tightly to the handrail this time, and tried earnestly to talk me into visiting the ER. I declined. There was no way I was going to the ER and confess that I had fallen down the stairs!
(A bit of trivia here, just because I think it is interesting. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, defines a flight as "A series of stairs rising from one landing to another" and a landing as "An intermediate platform on a flight of stairs". This makes so much sense, because when we use the term “flight” and “landing” in an aerospace connotation, there is a “landing” at the end of every “flight,” hopefully. So in stairs-terms, there is a flight and then a landing, a flight and then a landing.)
When I began my trek down the stairs, I was very confident in my own ability to navigate them without trouble. I barely acknowledged the provided handrail and even carried a load of excessive baggage with me.
After my fall, I repented of bringing every article in that bag, although I still had to deal with the consequences of my choice. This time, however, I not only touched the handrail, I clung to it. To me it was the one thing to keep me from falling, to keep me from injury, to keep me safe.
How many times in my spiritual life have I approached a set of stairs and only given lip-service to the protective “handrail” the Lord has put there for me? He puts His Word in our lives as that handrail, He puts the fellowship of other Christians as that handrail and He puts the communion of the Holy Spirit as that handrail. But if we don’t grasp those handrails and hold fast to them, we will not know the benefit and protection of them.
“…hold fast that which is good. “ 1 Thessalonians 5:21
How many times have I struggled along carrying my burden of thinking I was good enough and sufficient enough to handle the stairs by myself, when the Lord Jesus has promised to be my “all in all”? How many times have I failed to believe His word, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. How many times have I failed to respond to that word the way that the Apostle Paul did, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So as we approach the stairs of life, let us hold fast to the handrails. Let us cleave to the Word of God. Let us remain faithful to the fellowship of the believers the Lord has put around us and let us remain sensitive to the communion of the Holy Spirit. Then like Jude we will be able to gladly proclaim,
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
to the only wise God our Saviour,
be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
Jude 1: 24,25