I am a lousy loser. Unlike my dad who jokingly claimed to have never lost, I have done my fair share of it, and I stink at it. Over the years, I have gotten slightly better at it.
However, one thing I am pretty good at, is falling. I have had some close up experience and I think I learned how to deal with it. When I was twelve years old, Dr. Bill Rice invited me to come to the Bill Rice Ranch and work over the summer as a “cowboy.” Now, I have to be honest, I never became much of a cowboy, even though I had the best teachers in my boss, Pete Rice, and his guys Ennis, Terry and Lute to TRY to teach me. They were the real deal. Actually, I did learn quite a bit about horses, and one lesson I learned from Pete was how to fall. One day, he put me on a horse (colt) we were breaking. I was supposed to ride this wild bucking bronco. (OK slight exaggeration) Anyway, I did fairly well at first, but then the horse won and I landed on my rear end in the dirt. Everything hurt, especially my pride, but my body did not feel too good either. Pete came over and checked on me to make certain I was alright. I was, but I was not ready to hop back on. (I figured we would concede this round to the horse.) After discovering that I was no worse for wear, Pete suggested (understated) that I get back up on the horse. I told him that I wanted to wait. He said, “If you don’t get back on now, the horse wins and you will never want to get back up.” Actually, that was fine with me, but not with Pete. He wasn’t going to let me stay down. I did get back up…several times actually, but eventually I stayed up.
I never dreamed that what I learned from that experience, would serve me for the rest of my life. I never forgot it, and in fact I have drawn upon it time after time throughout my life. I have fallen more times that I want to admit. Every time I fell, I felt exactly the same way I did when that horse threw me on the ground. I did not want to get back up. However, Pete’s words have rung in my ears all these years, and each time I found a way to get back up.
1. Learn to expect it. Falls do come. The person who never expects to fall is a bit shocked when it happens.
2. Learn to keep pride out of the way. I have come to believe that my most sensitive muscle is my pride muscle. A fall is not destructive, unless pride gets in the way, and then a fall leads to destruction.
3. Learn to ignore the pain. If you concentrate on the pain, the pain will dictate what you do, but if you focus on finishing the race, you will ignore the pain and get back up.
4. Learn to never accept defeat. Defeat takes place when we forget the battle is the Lord’s. When we try to fight in our own power, defeats are terminal, but when we fight in the power of the Lord, they are temporary.
5. Learn that eventually I would not fall again, if I refused to stay down. This is so vital. If we study the heroes of the Bible, we see that their falls are what led them to eventually be able to stand.
6. Learn that falling is a part of the learning process. I have learned far more lessons in defeat, than I have in victory. It is when we fall, that we learn what it takes to win.
7. Learn not to worry about the jeers of others. It is much more fun to hear cheers than jeers, but ignoring them both, should be our goal. The jeers are Satan’s way of trying to discourage us. Tune them out.
8. Learn that, if I can get up one more time than I fall, I win. If a just man falls seven times, all that means is, he got up one more time than he fell. Never let the fall, be the last chapter of your life.
9. Learn that the some of the best Christians once fell. Need I remind you of Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah, Peter and others who had a fall, but who God used mightily after they fell?
10. Learn that sometimes we need help getting back up. Pride will make you flee from help, but humility will recognize that sometimes we need others to help us get back up, so that we can run again. As long as you try to do it alone, you will struggle to get back up.
So, even though I was only a Cowboy for a short season, falling off that horse would stay with me for the rest of my life. I am glad that I learned how to fall, and I am glad Pete taught me to get back up.