Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again.
This age-old children's rhyme warning of the irreparable effects that usually accompany a fall from greatness came flooding to mind this week when I heard of a major league moral failing of a dear friend and former ministry colleague. His fall doesn't seem like "just a slip" or a "moment of failure", but appears to be a full-fledged, head-long, face in the dirt, "prodigal eating with the pigs" turning away from a lifestyle and life way of walking with and for Jesus Christ. The news has left me numb and scratching my head wondering, how could this happen? I am also wondering is this really another instance of ol' Humpty Dumpty, damaged beyond repair and beyond any possible redemption?
In my heart, my hope is in the Lord, knowing that with Him, redemption and restoration is possible, though with consequences. I see a parallels to this truth in the recent Miss Universe contest. Most of us have heard this week's amazing account of how Miss USA 2007, a strikingly beautiful young woman, full of confidence, charm and swagger, sashayed across the floor during the evening gown competition, only to find herself suddenly and unexpectedly on her posterior to the shock of the entire audience. The swiftness and jolting nature of the fall caused me to reflect on Howard Cossell's memorable chant "Down goes Frazier! Down goes FRAZIER!!" announcing to the world the shock of George Forman's thorough and destructive pummeling of then-champion Joe Frazier. Unlike Frazier, however, Miss USA wasn't down for the count and quickly returned to her feet and continued seemingly unfazed with as much grace and poise as when she began her walk. Apparently, the judges were impressed with her recovery, and awarded her a spot among the final 5 contestants. The very partisan Mexico City crowd,however, was not moved, and jeered Miss USA during the interview portion of the contest. Nevertheless, Miss USA displayed great courage and dignity not losing focus during her interview and submitting a respectable and motivational answer chronicling her philanthropic service in South Africa. When all was said and done, however,the judges awarded her a 4th runner-up position - the fall had its impact - but Miss USA managed to finish the contest on her feet with a prize and title, albeit a diminished one from the one she originally sought.
There are a few lessons here for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ and seeking to walk victoriously in His Name.
Firstly, the Scripture warns us to take heed when we stand, lest we fall. A nanosecond before her fall on the stage, Miss USA was brimming with confidence and attitude, when BAM! suddenly,she was down. Just before his fall, my friend was known to all as a tower of strength and dependability. It is when we feel we are at our strongest that we must especially depend on and look to the Lord. The Scripture says,
'Not by power nor by might but by My Spirit, says the Lord.'Whatever our capabilities, whatever our gifts, whatever our strength, it all comes from the Lord, not from us. We must take great care to humbly acknowledge our abilities with the understanding that they all come from God should be used in subjection to His leading and direction, not our prideful self-absorbed display.
Secondly, if we do fall, we need to keep in mind that restoration is possible. Like Miss USA, the faster we can grasp the reality of our fall and get back on track the better. Scripture leaves no doubt that all of us have sinned and fall short of God's glory. It is also emphatic in declaring that forgiveness and restoration are abundantly available and readily dispensed through Jesus Christ. Like the father in the Prodigal Son parable, our heavenly Father is eager to forgive and restore. I hope my friend will grasp a hold of this reality and do so quickly.
Thirdly, we must remember that falls have consequences. Though she received a prize, Miss USA failed to achieve THE prize and will never be known a Miss Universe, though being known as Miss USA isn't at all shabby. King David retained his throne after his adultery with Bathsheba, but at a price which cost him a son and established violence within his own household for years afterward. Should my friend return to himself and to a lifestyle of walking with Jesus Christ, he will find that he has lost some credibility and trust and that some people will always see him as "The Guy Who Fell." He will certainly find wounds within his own family that may take years to heal and may never completely heal. He will also find that it may be that he will never again hold the title of Pastor or minister that he worked so hard to receive and that he represented so well in the years before his fall. The title of "servant of the Lord" is still available, and would not be a bad title at all with which to spend the remainder of his life. For my friend and for us, forgiveness is possible and restoration is available, if only we are willing to let go of our sin and grab a hold of Jesus who is willing and able to save us.
So,even though "all the king's horses and all the king's men could put Humpty together again", and even though Miss USA's reign extends only "from sea to shining sea" as opposed to the whole world, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is able to restore us to a meaningful life when we fall and more importantly He is able to preserve us before we fall if we will just walk with Him and never let Him go. That's no fairy tale or nursery rhyme, that's the Gospel Truth! Until next time,