You’ve probably experienced it when you were a kid. If you played sports, or were in the band or drama group, or anything you did to perform or compete, you always wanted to know there were people in the stands rooting for you. You probably would sneak a peek toward the audience or bleachers to see if your parent, family or friend was there, cheering for you or applauding.
I remember the first time I ran a marathon, when I finished I was excited and felt so good that I had completed such a challenge. But, as it turned out, none of my family could be there to congratulate or watch me finish. In a way, it was sort of an empty victory. However, the next time I ran, both my wife and daughter were able to be there to cheer me on at the end and to congratulate me on my finish. That accomplishment was so much more fulfilling. Even along the race route, having complete strangers cheering for you to complete the race was a huge encouragement to run and to run well.
Life Requires a Rooting Section
I remember growing up, my mom in particular was always good at encouraging me to do well…to perform and to exceed. She would root for me. One such instance was when I participated in the Soap Box Derby. Dad worked with me to build the car, but on race day, it was Mom who was cheering on the sidelines as I rolled down that hill to be beaten in the first heat. Oh well, the next year I at least made it to the second round.
Everyone needs a rooting section…not just for the Soap Box Derby, but for life. There is powerful encouragement and strength in knowing others are behind you, cheering you on…there for you through the easy and the tough times. Many athletes know that there are phases in their careers when they are not at the top of their game…it may be the years of hard work leading up to that big opportunity, or it could be a slump that spans a couple of seasons. Either way, knowing there are diehard fans that are still rooting for you, no matter what, is what gets you through those down times. Something that makes this even more significant is when those rooting for you have also completed the course you are running. In every race I’ve run, If my friends finished before me, they are at the finish line applauding me when I come across. If I finish before them, I do the same. There is so much strength that comes in knowing they are going to be there…in your corner, rooting for you.
There are times in my life I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had someone, several someones, in my life rooting for me. I drew strength to keep on going from them…knowing they were completing the journey too. I’ve also had the privilege to stand in the corner of a friend and cheer them on…letting them know I’m there and they have my support, advice and prayer. The author of the letter to the Hebrews pointed out the value of this in our lives after listing all those who had lived their lives of faith in following God (Hebrews 11). Immediately upon the heels of this chapter he writes…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
What an encouragement to realize this. There are countless numbers of those who have completed the course and provide encouragement to us on our journey. Additionally, there are those who are still in the race who encourage us to run well as we continue on our journey. Here’s what they do for us:
- They provide witness to the fact that we can finish well.
- They remind us that we must remove the hindrances that keep us from running well.
- They remind us that our race requires endurance…we must keep on keeping on.
- They remind us that keeping our eyes on Jesus will enable us to finish well.
Looking Into the Crowd
Are you looking for that cheering section? They may be closer than you think. Yes, those who have gone on before us are always there to remind us to keep on going. We can look to them for inspiration and courage. But, there are also those who are running in the race with us. They are cheering us on even as they, themselves, run. Often, they go unnoticed until we really look around us. I was giving encouragement to a close friend the other day when I pointed out that he had posted a comment on Facebook about a struggle he was facing. The responses that he received of encouragement from others had gone unnoticed as a source of his “cheering section” until I pointed it out. How do we recognize them?
- Look – our supporters are often there right before our eyes, but we are too caught up in our own drama to see them.
- Connect – we will never have encouragers in our lives until we connect with others.
- Share – be willing to let other people in as to what your life looks like…do they know the real day-to-day you face?
- Be a Cheerleader – getting others to encourage and cheer you on often comes as a response to your willingness to be a cheerleader in the lives of others. Step out.
Who has been a cheering supporter in your life?