Last Saturday, we took our youth group hiking to Moonshine Falls (no, there wasn't any moonshine there, just empty barrels). While there, we decided to take the unmarked path to Confusion Falls, a beautiful scene where two falls combine creating a fabulous cascade. Not only is the trail not marked, but it's not really even a trail at all. One simply has to know how to make his way down the mountain to get to it. Jason and I had gone down the day before, so we knew that it could be done even though the way was steep.
The problem on Saturday was that a group of the youth got ahead of us, determined to create their own path. They missed the turn off to the falls and began making their way down the steepest incline on the mountain. Having no choice but to follow them at this point, Jason and I started our descent.
Laughter and shouts covered the mountainside as one by one, many of us slipped on leaves and landed on our bottoms. After several falls, many of the youth decided to just slide down the mountain on their bottoms. One girl, however, was determined to make it down on her own two feet. She wound up, however, hanging by her shirt that was caught on a short branch of the tree she had grabbed as she was falling.
I have to admit, the sight from where I stood was hilarious. Her shirt was caught on the tree branch and pulled up over her head. Her arms and legs were flailing, and her laughter rang out across the hills. I laughed so hard that I lost my footing and found myself sitting rather quickly. I had to recover from my laughing spell before I could even attempt to stand back up.
Later, that same girl, while at Confusion Falls, fell into the river while attempting to cross a fallen log. After making sure she was alright, we all laughed with her at her misfortune. By the end of the trip, she was scraped, scratched, and bruised, but she was still smiling.
At church on Sunday, the girl's mom came up and told me what a great time the girl had had on Saturday. Then she told me that her daughter had told her about me laughing so hard that I fell myself. I immediately felt guilty. She wasn't mad at all, but I still felt that I needed to apologize. I had tried not to laugh, but the situation was just so comical. Still, my first priority should have been to her safety. She could have been seriously hurt.
That guilt caused me to examine my Christian life. When a brother or sister in Christ falls, do I stop to help him/her up? When a fellow believer needs my help, do I offer it? It's often easy to laugh at or criticize someone when they're down, but that's the last thing they need. They need love. They need acceptance. They need someone to help them up. They need encouragement. I pray that I will react well to those who take a fall. The Lord knows how often I could use a helping hand.