I have a continuing fascination with Olympians. Women’s gymnastics was my favorite Olympic sport to watch in 2016. Several times the gymnasts told their teammates, “I’ve got your back”. They didn’t say this randomly but just before a teammate was about to perform.
I did a quick Google search through team interviews to see if they had a cryptic meaning assigned to this statement. I couldn’t find anything and am led to believe it means just what it says, “I’ve got your back”. You could say it’s a verbal expression of friendship but I think it’s more like an example of love we can all learn from.
The gymnastic competitive lines are blurred between individual and team. The women compete as individuals and for the team simultaneously. They must do their best for their own score and advancement while they are also competing for a team gold medal. And in this environment with focused, determined faces they tell each other, “I’ve got your back”.
The essence of this statement is beautiful. It takes into consideration that sometimes unforeseen things happen. A lengthier version would go something like this, “I know how hard you’ve worked to be here today. You are a champion. But if something crazy should happen and your routine doesn’t go as planned – I’m here for you. I will cover for you and rise if you should fall and do above what I can dream of so our team won’t miss a beat and in the end we will still win.”
Gymnastics isn’t unlike many things we do in life including marriage. I’ve been married for almost 30 years and can barely remember my vows word for word as I spoke them in 1990. But somewhere swirling around my head today are the words, “To have and to hold in sickness and in health; in good times and bad; for richer or poorer until death do us part.” Sounds an awful lot like, “I’ve got your back – for life”.
I’ve had times when I loved picking up and doing more than my share in marriage. I’ve also had times when I didn’t. I grumbled. I grumbled inside and out loud. I’ve let my husband (my teammate for life) hear my grumblings. How unlike the Olympian’s I’ve been watching. They’ve chosen to love each other and placed their love above the performance (whether good or bad) of their teammate. Do we love our spouses this way? Do we place our love for them above what they do for us and our family?
The Olympians I’ve been talking about choose to give up something precious; their right to complain or be upset if another doesn’t perform to expectations, in order to love their teammate who is infinitely more precious. Love’s proper place is over a medal, a goal, an internal longing. Place anything you want after love. Love will always win. Love will always remain. Love truly conquers all.
Operating in the power of Love is the highest order in the Universe. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was so powerful it split time in two: B.C. to A.D. All of us can love. All of us can sacrifice. All of us have a measure of God in our being because he created us in his image. Do you remember when Jesus healed the ten lepers? Jesus healed ten men. He asked no questions to pre-qualify them for healing. He chose to love them all and gave without asking for anything in return. Yet, only one man – 1 in 10 – came back to thank him. One man came back to adore God for doing what he could not do for himself and Jesus took note. This one man was a Samaritan, a stranger.
Jesus told all ten to go and show themselves to the priest because this was according to the law. But along the way they were all healed. Can you imagine their elation as they watched their bodies being healed from leprosy? They probably began to think about their lives they had before being a leper and were mentally and verbally making plans to get back to living.
Before enjoying a life free from sickness this one healed leper went back to God bowing before him. This man knew he was in debt to Jesus and went back to praise him. And in so doing he received a great blessing. Jesus told him, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole”. The great blessing he received was to be specifically beheld by God. God stopped what he was doing and looked at him and then gave a declaration concerning his life. This man was able to go his way not just healed of an outward disease but totally made whole.
Another time Jesus healed a man who had been demon possessed. As Jesus was about to leave the area, this man begged to go with him. But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been”. This man, could have done anything after being healed but he went back to Jesus to pay honor. And in so doing he left the presence of God with a blessing of being given more than a healing. He left knowing what to do: go home to his family and tell them of God. On his way home this formerly demonized man evangelized ten cities telling them of the great things Jesus had done for him.(Mark 5:1-20)
There are certain blessings God has ordained for all men to attain. But it seems a special blessing of purpose is reserved for those who acknowledge and honor the gift and sacrifice of Jesus. It is always better to be told to go our way from Jesus than to go our own way without his blessing. If we will stop what we are doing (enjoying the freedom of salvation without paying attention to the great debt we owe to Christ) and go back to Jesus with thankfulness; I believe He will be pleased and give us the direction in life we so desperately desire. Jesus gave each of the two men we looked at personal encouragement. One man was made whole and could go his way. The other man was told to go to his family and share God’s mercy. There are no cookie cutter life plans with Jesus. He will give you your perfect, personal life plan when you have a heart to adore Him.
Have you have been praying, asking for a ministry to change the world? Look no further than here. Don’t wait for a winning lottery ticket – you are reading it right now! Jesus said the servant is not greater than the master. Sacrificial giving in any form mirrors the image of God and has the power to change the world. I know we might desire another word. Something else. Anything else – just not sacrifice. And why not sacrifice? We are afraid of many things especially losing out in life. Sacrifice implies loss. Perhaps. But sometimes loss is gain.
To defeat the fear associated with sacrifice we must know one thing: God has our back!
If God was to say something to you today- to personally behold you; I think he’d declare: “I know how hard you’ve worked to be here today. You are a champion. But if something crazy should happen and your life doesn’t go as planned – I’m here for you. I will rise if you should fall and do above all you could ask or think, according to My Power- which is at work in you right now.”
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