I was once an aspiring gymnast. And by gymnast I mean I was an average and/or below average athlete! However I did still love the sport. I enjoyed a place where I could feel comfortable with my flexibility and awkward body. I was short, skinny, and definitely not the muscular image of an elite gymnast.
The girl who lived down the street from us (in my eyes) was an above average athlete. She took classes at a “name brand” center that met at a private college near us. I wanted to train there because I thought that was the answer to making me a better athlete. I remember when one of my parents dropped me off there for the first time I felt so fancy walking into that old college building. I don’t remember knowing anyone or having anyone to talk with but none of that seemed to matter to me at the time. I was going to be an athlete!
Amongst all the typical gymnastics equipment there was always a trampoline at the bigger gyms. We always had a rotation on that trampoline. Something that seems so fun and exciting to young and old was more than intimidating to me. It was taller than me and had nothing around it. If you flew off and fell, you fell hard. I soon discovered that my less than olympic skills meant I essentially just got free jumping time during this rotation. I only did simple jumps and flips. Unfortunately no coaching, no safety nets, and no risks, meant I didn’t learn anything on that apparatus.
A few years later I joined my high school gymnastics team. My skills had not changed over those years and I really didn’t want to put in much effort to make that better. I had a lot of fun on that team and had many friendships formed because of it. But deep down inside I still thought I wanted more – with minimal effort on my part – of course. Somehow my girlfriend and I joined a gym in a city about 20-25 minutes away. I’m not even sure who’s idea it was or why we did it together, but we did. I’m sure our parents were just grateful for the carpool!!
I remember walking into this gym for the first time. I thought this was it. Why hadn’t I been here all my life? This gym felt like olympic athletes were training. It smelled like olympic athletes were training. I suddenly had confidence in my below average skills that I had never had before.
Of course …. there was that trampoline. We would have another rotation here – no different then that other place I went to years ago. However, at this gym, my skills were not questioned. In fact EVERYONE was expected to do and work on whatever skill was up for that day. I remember it being a double tuck. That is jumping high enough in the air to rotate twice and then land on your feet again. Friends, I could barely rotate one on the spring floor – what was this coach thinking? I remember that confidence dwindled down to nothing. I was terrified. Every time it was my turn, I was terrified. Even though this gym had a coach spotting me on the tramp, even though this tramp was surrounded by foam blocks if you fell – I still couldn’t do it.
I still remember to this day, the coaches voices booming at me to “HOLD MY TUCK” as if that’s all I needed to rotate twice in the air. I never did the double tuck. I always left my turn feeling defeated, feeling like a failure. That was when I discovered that I was really good at being average but I failed at being great.
This is the thing about life. People think you can flip around randomly on a trampoline all day every day. No direction….no safety nets….no spotter….and you will get somewhere. You will be a better you for it. But what does it really get you beyond some good exercise? It surely doesn’t make you feel better all the time.
People also think that you can dedicate hours to training, have state of the art equipment, have a spotter, and you will accomplish great things. But if you don’t understand the mechanics around it, no amount of yelling commands will make you more successful and feel better all the time.
God is what provides us with the safety net that we need to accomplish great things. That it’s okay to try new tricks, to fail, and to get back up again. He’s right there to push you, pull you back up, and dust you off. And even better….he makes even “average” things GREAT if he has commanded you to do them! He fills each of us up with the Holy Spirit to live in and guide us. To help us thrive! There is no failure to be great! Everyone is GREAT!
In John chapter three Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit. You may be familiar with the verse in John 3:16. But there is so much more than that verse in the story. God’s love is an awesome love – it’s like this safety net laid out all around us. God fills us with his Spirit so we can be led to where we need to be. If we are just left to “bounce” around freely we may not choose to go there without the Spirit leading us. God doesn’t want to just bark orders at us while we are struggling with our tricks mid-air. He wants to fill us with his Spirit so we can live and love just as Jesus would.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. – John 3:21
God sent us his one and only son. He sent his son into this world to give us all eternal life. He fills us with his Spirit to lead us while we are on this earth. So we should rejoice in this safety net that he’s placed around each of us! We should be living and loving as Jesus would. We can be free to make mistakes and try again. We can be free knowing when we fail he will forgive us – and when we succeed he will celebrate us!
Jumping on this trampoline of life without the safety net of God will never leave you with a feeling of lasting peace. You may enjoy extreme highs and extreme lows but never a deep peace that resonates through the highs and lows. That peace only comes when you let the Spirit overwhelm every part of you. The Spirit is waiting for you to take a giant double flip!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13