Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. - Proverbs 24:16
The toast my father delivered at my wedding reception was everything I hoped he’d say. Loving, funny, and a little too honest, the line that brought down the house went like this: “I’ve never known anyone who makes more mistakes than Denise. She’s made a lot of decisions over the course of her life that really made us
wonder what in the world she was thinking. But the thing that amazes us most is that no matter how many times she falls, she always lands on her feet. That’s our Denise.”
My father’s description of me couldn’t have been more accurate. I’ve fallen more times than I can even count. Some of my failures were high profile, like when I ran for Congress and lost. Others were internal, like when I didn’t get into a single law school I’d applied to, or when I never got a call back after interviewing for my dream job.
From an outsider’s perspective, my life looks like a series of failures - partly because I reach for things that are well beyond my own capabilities, and partly because I always get back up. As much as I hate failing, I wear it like a badge of honor; not because I’m proud of it, per se, but because it’s proof that I rose (and rose) again.
It’s important to note, however, that there were many times I didn’t want to rise again, and didn’t think I could. I’ve fallen so hard that at times, every bone in my body seemed broken beyond repair. With every fall, however, God graced me with the strength to get back up, and equipped me with the fortitude to take the very next step.
Taking that next step is always an act of obedience and faith. We have no idea what lies ahead, and after a big fall, we’re often too scared to find out. But when we step out anyway, letting God, rather than fear, dictate what happens next, it’s credited to us as righteousness.
That’s why I love this proverb so much. I’m far from what I’d consider “a righteous person,” apart from the grace of God. But what’s credited to me as righteousness – faith first, and obedience second – gives me the confidence to know that God will help me rise again, be it seven times, or seventy-seven. And that, my friends, is all I need to keep on truckin’.
You, Lord, keep my candle burning; my God turns darkness into light. - Psalm 18:28