September 11, 2007
We All Fall Down
By Van Walton
“The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life…”
While walking through my neighborhood following a strong summer storm, I noticed a “dent” in the landscape. Upon closer investigation I realize that one large tree had succumbed to winds of the storm. Down it went, taking several other trees down with it.
Pondering nature’s lesson, I thought about the winds that blow through our lives. I thought about how the strong stand tall and the weak fall. I flashed back to times when I’ve experienced the storms of life. I looked at that big tree and thought, “It wasn’t enough that you fell. You took others down with you.” Unfortunately, the choices we make don’t just affect us. From our decisions flow consequences that not only destroy our lives but also those in our realm of influence.
When I taught high school, I had many opportunities to listen and comment. My students bragged about their off campus, weekend activities. They thought they were having fun. Most often they were. But as in the case of most kids, their fun spilled over into unreasonable practices. When I questioned the wisdom of their choices, they inevitably replied. “Oh it’s just me. It’s not like it’s going to affect anyone else!”
I stole money from my mother to treat my classmates at the concession stand. When the teacher thanked my mom for her generosity, she was shocked. She had not given me money for class treats! Not only did I “fall” in the eyes of my teacher, I took my mother’s esteem as a parent down.
My son played a prank while all his friends watched. When confronted, no one confessed. They all suffered the consequences together.
A cell phone rang during a team meeting. All players lost phone privileges
A group of boys decided to spend the night at a friend’s apartment. They drank alcohol late into the night. The next morning while driving home, sirens and flashing lights pulled up behind the speeding car. The still intoxicated driver was handcuffed and taken to jail. His abandoned passengers, meanwhile, were taken down too with no way home. This is not the end of the story. One of the boys’ mothers listened to her phone messages and incredulously heard a police officer on the other end taking about the incident. With a broken heart she broke the news to her husband. Two more fell.
Thankfully, no one had died. But I remember other times kids made decisions that resulted in death.
A bonfire on a summer night can be loads of fun. Add alcohol and it becomes dangerous. Throw in a jeep, a quick run to the store and the result is deadly. That is exactly what happened a few blocks from my house. A decision not only killed a budding young adult, but it also took down the driver by terminating his career in the Air Force. It took down a mother who lost her son. It took down a group of kids who lost their reputations and credibility. It took down a community that became polarized. It took down relationships when trust was lost. It took down individuals’ character, as cynicism and doubt crept in.
Winds blow. Storms gather. A tree sways. Roots rip. Down it goes. It never falls without damaging the landscape around it. On the other hand, a strong tree that stands upright is a blessing to the entire community.
Dear Father, You know how many times I have fallen, taking others down with me. Thank You for this illustration. Remind me when I make decisions that I will not experience the consequences alone. I do not want others to suffer because of the choices I have made. Thank You for Your faithfulness, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Little Halos by Van Walton
Be the Parent by Kendra Smiley
Role play with your children... ask them to sit, face you, and pretend that (s)he had to deliver bad news. Then ask how they would feel if they had to report a theft or cheating. Could they face you if they had to confess to a crime, having developed a sexually transmitted disease, or an out-of-wedlock pregnancy?
When have your actions or poor choices taken another person down?
Have you asked theirs and God’s forgiveness for that?
How can we stand upright and strong? The power verses below can help.
Joshua 1:7, “Be strong and very courageous…careful to obey all the instructions…Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.” (NLT)
Psalm 1:1-3, “Oh, the joys of those who … delight in the law of the Lord…they are like trees planted along the riverbank…” (NLT)
2 Thessalonians 2:15, “…stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you…” (NLT)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 11 September 2007.