When We Fall Into A Ditch (We’re Not Ditch Fallers)

prodigal son

Not too long ago we were visiting at my parents. They have a small battery-powered four wheeler for the kids that reaches about 2 MPH top speed. I stood on the front driveway watching my two-year old, Gideon, manipulate the little red toy between the yard’s pine trees. He was getting good at steering.

On the side of their yard runs a steep ditch the county dug obnoxiously deep. A few inches of water and muck had developed at the bottom from previous days showers. In my youth this ditch was a consistent summer playground for water moccasins.

My two-year old was heading right towards the ditch on his four-wheeler.

Surely he’s going to turn….I thought…Surely.

He didn’t turn.

“Gideon!” I yelled.

But no brakes were administered, no turns attempted, just a toddler plodding headlong to the edge of moccasin cliff.

I activated my awkward adult sprint but it was too late. Head over hills Gideon fell, about four feet down. When I got to him he was straddling the four wheelers handle bars with his legs and bracing the side of the ditch with his hands. He was letting out a scared whimper. I scooped him up.

Not a mud spot.

Not a scratch.

Within seconds he was completely unaffected by the great fall.

I can’t help but strain an analogy. The way we view God almost always has more to do with our personal projections than actual truth. We believe we are defined by what we do. Culture tells we are the sum of: Our careers, our good deeds, our sins, our addictions.

Businessmen.

Homeschoolers.

Writers.

Philanthropists.

Alcoholics.

So when we slip and fall and fail as humans tend to do, we stop and define: We’re “stupid messups”…”clumsy idiots”…”abject failures.”

But the beauty of the gospel says we’re never defined by what we do, only by who we are in Christ.

I didn’t see a failure falling into that ditch, I saw my precious son.

My heart jerk reaction wasn’t to scold him, it was to protect him and hold him tight in my safe arms.

And I’m an evil father. At least according to Jesus:

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)

What is a perfect Fathers heart towards children who stumble and fall? Does His holy heart of concern surpass mine in care and provision? Of course it does.

Times a billion. At least.

When we find ourself in the bottom of snake infested ditch. When our worst enemy has been self. When all we can do is groan over the plight we’ve put ourselves in.

God’s not shaking his finger at us like a disappointed school teacher.

He’ running to us.

With an open heart of unconditional love.

No questions asked.

No strings attached.

Just a child scooped up in the good Father’s strong embrace.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

18 thoughts on “When We Fall Into A Ditch (We’re Not Ditch Fallers)”

  1. Wondering post Bryan! Thankful your son wasn’t hurt… Sometimes I wonder if our loving Father and Lord allow these daily mis-happenings to renew in our hearts the “unconditional” love He gives. Sending blessings…
    Stephanie

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