Some people find fault like there is a reward for it. And then there are those who cheer! I was in a sparse crowd watching a cross country meet when that truth came home. Cross country is grueling. Runners must defy the weary voices within as they push their bodies over a serpentine course designed to test their stamina. There is little glamor here! Winners don't grab headlines. Uniforms are drab. Crowds are small.
When the gun sounded that day, a young lady ran the course like a gazelle. As she crossed the finish line, a chorus of cheers erupted from parents, coaches, and friends. Then came the second, third, and fourth finishers. The crowd still cheered.
These spectators were applauding when the twentieth runner crossed and they were still there when the last two runners headed for home. I’ll call them Rosa and Jade, and they were considerably far behind. But that didn’t bother the crowd or even some of the competitors who had long cooled off.
“Come on Rosa! Come on Jade!” one cried. “You can do it!” shouted another. “Finish together!” another yelled. The crowd just cheered them on: “Way to go Rosa!” “Way to go Jade!”
As I watched from the sidelines, I was deeply moved by the encouragement I was witnessing. The race was long settled. Air-conditioned cars were waiting. But that did not matter. Cheering on the runners was more important.
God opened a window that day. He let me catch a glimpse of what the church should be: a place where people cheer each other on. I think that is what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote to a group of believers running a grueling life-long race for God.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)
Running for God is a challenging effort. There are days when your friends are weary, weak, and discouraged. At these times the finish line is in sight, but they need encouragement to get there. Bring an encouraging word. Cheer them on. Do it today!