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Fear of Falling

by Tim O'Hearn

I am afraid of heights. I hate climbing trees. Looking out a window on the fortieth story of the Sears Tower was not one of the things I would care to repeat. In my youth I barely got a few yards across the bridge at the Royal Gorge before crawling back to the relative safety of the banks. Actually it is not a fear of heights as much as it is a fear of falling.

Apparently a lot of other people share this fear. (I had a drama teacher who couldn't even wear high heels.) With some it even extends into the realm of the spiritual. Some live a lifetime in dread of "falling from grace." Such fear is unnecessary.

First of all I guess I ought to point out that I am not saying it is impossible to fall. That would be like a linesman denying gravity. It flies in the face of all the evidence. The only time in scripture that the words "fall" and "grace" come together, Paul is telling the Galatians that it has happened. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Gal 5:4) Paul even warns that some who might otherwise be qualified as elders in the church could into the condemnation and snare of the devil (1 Tim 3:6,7). Twice the writer to the Hebrews mentions the possibility of falling (Heb 4:11; 6:4-6), in the latter instance even warning that

it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Someone once counted over 200 instances in the Bible where the possibility of falling is mentioned. I don't know what all those verses are. I do know that Paul warned the Corinthians (1 Cor 10:12) to "take heed" lest they fall. And therein, perhaps, is the basis of some people's unreasonable fear of falling.

Such people take undue heed of falling. Paul said to be reasonably aware of the dangers. Some take it to an extreme. They could be compared to the aforementioned linesman not taking off his safety belt even after he is on solid ground. We should be aware of the possibility of falling, but need not fear it.

In the spiritual realm we have a safety belt, just like the linesman uses in the physical realm. We are aware of gravity, but count on the safety belt to overcome it. And we need not fear that our safety belt will fail. Jude says that safety belt is God. "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 for ever." (Jude 24, 25) Paul, in the next verse after warning the Corinthians to take heed tells them their safety system is failsafe. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor 10:13).

We have the safety belt. It is not going to fail. We would be crazy to unbuckle it on a fifty-foot tower in forty mile per hour winds. But it would be just as crazy to live in terror that God will let us fall. It just ain't gonna happen.