Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"My hand is on your back" . . .

On occasion, I have watched the TV show Flashpoint, which is about a tactical response unit based in Toronto, Canada.  This team is much like the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team.  Flashpoint's unit is called the "Strategic Response Team", and this team handles events such as hostage taking, bomb scares (and actual bombs), criminals that are heavily armed, etc.

The episode I happened to catch today was the final one of the series.  (ION Television airs reruns of Flashpoint.)  This episode was the last of a two-parter where a deranged terrorist had planted bombs all around the city.  The team had to work fast in order to find and disarm all the bombs.  At least one bomb went off.

When a group of people work together in intense circumstances, there's a bond that forms among them.  This happens with people who are together in combat.  I've also read that it happens with medical school students.  I've done research on archaeology (for a fiction book idea) and I suspect that this bond may form among archaeological dig teams.

In the case of a combat unit--and probably, to a lesser extent, among the other examples I mentioned--you have to know that the other people have your back.  You have to know that, if the enemy starts shooting, your fellow soldiers will shoot back in order to protect their unit.  If you're a commanding officer, you have to know that if you give orders, your subordinants will follow them.

In this last episode of Flashpoint, the members of the team were scattered all over the city but were in radio contact with their team leader.  In the middle of this intense situation--trying to find bombs and trying to find the perp that had set the bombs--the leader was giving his instructions, and then he said, "remember, even though I'm not with you, my hand is on your back, just like your hand is on mine."

That phrase stuck with me.  "My hand is on your back."

We talk about "having people's backs".  In the first episode of this season of Doctor Who, with new Doctor Peter Capaldi, Clara, while confronting that episode's monster, said that "if the Doctor is still the Doctor, he will have my back."  (which he did).  One definition of "having someone's back" means, being willing to support or defend someone.

In the case of the Flashpoint team, every member needed to be willing, at every moment, to support and defend their team against whatever situation was coming up.  If someone was not able or willing to support or defend their team, their mission would fall apart,  One of them could get seriously wounded or killed.

The team is also under leadership.  Their leader has to know that the team is able and willing to follow orders--in other words, support and defend him when absolutely necessary.  The team also has to know that their leader is going to have their back--support and defend them when necessary.

In the final episode, team leader Ed Lane is giving directions to his team, and then he adds, "remember, even if I'm not there with you, my hand is on your back."

My hand is on your back.  

I got a picture of someone guiding, protecting, supporting someone, even though not physically present.  And I wondered, isn't this what God does?  What Jesus does?  What the Holy Spirit does? Isn't this the way that he "has our backs", in a sense?  Doesn't he guide, support, protect, and defend, even though we cannot see him?

I confess that my faith is rather shaky right now.  My circumstances have been tough, and it makes it hard to have faith at times.

But if God has my back--if he is willing to support and defend me when necessary--if, even if he is not physically present, his "hand is on my back" . . . that means he is with me.  Even if I cannot see him.  Just like Ed Lane had his hand on his team's back, even when he was not there with them.

And perhaps that is a way to encourage others as well.  We "have their backs" even if we are not there with them.

"Even if I'm not there with you, my hand is on your back."

My hand is there, supporting you, guiding you, protecting and defending you.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

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