1 Corinthians 4: 10-13 (NRSVA)
10 We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, 12 and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.
Back in my drama class days we used to practise ‘trust circles’. These generally involve some version of standing in a tight circle with one person in the centre. The person in the centre allows themselves to fall backwards and be caught and/or passed from one person to another. Done properly, it is very relaxing. Done carelessly, it is very painful. In one class we graduated to falling backwards off a table into the arms of those we trusted. It takes courage to trust your classmates, and some folks never managed it.
Falling forward takes even more courage than falling backwards. It is downright foolish. My youngest sister and I used to practise doing it on a soft mattress, and even that required a good deal of self-control not to instinctively reach your arms out to protect yourself. I very much doubt I would be willing to try it today!
Northern Irish singer Brian Houston, in his song ‘Take My Whole Heart’, writes of wanting to “fall face forward into the arms of grace”.
That is exactly the kind of ‘foolish’ trust which Paul and the other apostles showed. As ‘fools for Christ’ they fell face forward into hunger, thirst, homelessness, weariness, imprisonment, failure, persecution and death. They fell, with their eyes open, right through those dangers into the arms of grace.
When I fall
May I not fall backwards,
slipped up by my own misstep, or over confidence,
by my refusal to look down
or by the obstacle in the road which I didn’t see.
When I fall
May I fall forwards,
eyes open and arms still,
knowing it is foolish,
knowing there will be pain
May I fall through the pain,
through the rejection,
through the failure,
through the doubt and struggle
into the arms of grace.