Don’t you just love the Olympics?! Wait, I thought the title of this post was ‘love jumps in?’ Being Valentine’s Day is the big deal these next few days, what do the Olympics have to do with love jumping in? Is there some love story about a ski jumper?
I am not aware of any great love stories coming out of the Olympics, but I did hear about a great story that describes what love does…for love jumps in. It was during the Men’s Cross-Country Skiing Sprint Free Semifinals at these Sochi 2014 games. Anton Gafarov of Russia was very determined to do his country proud, but unfortunately fell. He got back up, yet fell again now breaking his ski. Determined, he got up and fell again now completely unable to use the broken ski. There he was Olympic dreams shattered and now not even able to finish the race. Thinking he would have to finish the race in disgrace by walking, Canadian Coach Justin Wadsworth jumped in and immediately grabbed an extra ski, ran onto the course and did not just throw the ski to the dejected Gafarov, but Wadsworth ran up to Gafarov affixed the new ski to Gafarov foot and Gafarov finished the race with a smile on his face as the crowd cheered.
When Wadsworth was asked why he jumped in he talked of how hard these athletes work, the honor to compete for their country, and the dignity to finish the race. Coach Wadsworth could not just watch Anton suffer the disappointment, he had to do something…because love jumps in.
When I hear stories like this my mind goes two ways. First I think of how Jesus’ love jumps into our lives…
1 John 4:9-10 This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus’ love jumped in and paid our sin debt (Romans 5:8), but His love does not stop there. God’s love is everlasting:
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
Not only that, Jesus’ love is unstoppable:
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus’ love has not and will not stop jumping into our lives. Sure we can reject it and try to ski (or limp) along and reject the help of the Lord, or we can receive it and get on with the race before us. It’s really up to each of us.
Now the second thought that hits me when I hear stories like Coach Wadsworth is would I be so moved to jump in…
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Jesus gave us a direct challenge to love when He stated that the second most important commandment was to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ (Matthew 22:39, Mark 13:31, Luke 10:27). When ask, “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus told the famous story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) revealing our neighbors are those in need…like a struggling athlete with a broken ski.
The key for us to notice is that Coach Wadsworth was watching, he noticed, he empathized, and he jumped in. Coach Wadsworth did not just laugh it off or cheer because it was a lesser competitor; no, he let his love for the sport and fellow athlete move him to jump in. How amazing our world would be if we all were more like Coach Wadsworth. I bet there may even be a moment were you could let love move you to jump in even this week!
Seeking to let love jump in with you,