As Bob Marley would say, it’s time to “stir it up”!
Before he passed away, bible theologian J. Vernon McGee was invited to a kickoff luncheon for the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, where he heard an inspiring story from the newscaster.
He told of a famous football coach in the East. The coach had a player who was known for two things. The first thing he was noted for was his faithfulness at football practice. He was the first one out and the last one to leave, but he never could make the team-he just wasn’t quite good enough. The second thing he was famous for was that his father often visited him on campus, and they would be seen walking arm in arm across campus, very much engrossed in conversation. Everyone noticed that and thought it was sweet. Well, one day the coach got a call saying that the boy’s father had died. The coach was the one chosen to tell the sad news to the boy, so he called him in and told him. The boy was greatly shaken, of course, and had to go home for the funeral. But he was present at the next game, sitting there on the bench. Then he came over to the coach and said, “Coach, this is my fourth and last year, and I’ve never played in a game. I’m wondering if today you could put me in just a few minutes and let me play.” And so the coach put him in because the boy’s father had just died. To his amazement, the boy turned out to be a star! The coach had never seen anyone play a better, more brilliant game than this boy played-so he never took him out of the game. When the game was over, the coach called the boy off to the side and said to him, “Listen, I’ve never seen anyone play like you played today, but up to today, you were the lousiest football player I’ve ever seen. I want an explanation.” And the boy said, “Well, coach, you see, my dad was blind, and this is the first day that he ever saw me play football.”
While most of us will not have the opportunity to run on a field surrounded by bleachers filled with shouts of acclimation, we all have an audience. Although not seen with human eyes or heard with human ears, we are all surrounded by very vocal and passionate encouragers.
On the tennis team in high school, I had many tournaments both at home and away. And, I always performed much better at games on courts in our hometown. Why? Because our home side of the bleachers was full of supporters cheering me on, that was not the case for games miles away. There is just something that happens to a soul when surrounded by supporters cheering them on; it’s powerful to know you are being watched and actively encouraged to perform well. No wonder the Bible commands us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV). That word “stir” actually means encouraging, spur, prod, and stimulating; in other words, we are to enter the bleachers of each other’s lives and fill their ears with shouts of support.
What about those times when we look up from our “race” to discover the bleachers are lifeless or empty, with no encouragement or support for what we are doing? Or even those times when it seems the opposing team is the loudest voice, filling our ears with criticism; judging our motives and methodologies? It is through these difficult and lonely times we must remember that Heaven is watching. And, while you won’t be able to physically hear or see those in Heaven cheering you on, you can be sure that group is your loudest and most supportive force of encouragement in your life. Remembering this can keep us all going strong and see us cross the finish line triumphantly; just to know you are not forgotten and Heaven is watching is enough to motivate our direction and inspire us to go the distance.
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (ESV)
Question: Have you ever felt all alone, like the bleachers of your life were empty?
Prayer: Father, there are times that loneliness sets in when I am trying my best to serve you and make a difference in this world. Times when it seems the only voices I hear are complaints and criticisms, second-guessing my motives, and misjudging my methodologies as I serve you. Father, may I focus my spiritual eyes and incline my spiritual ears to become more aware of the cloud of witnesses in my life and rejoice that Heaven is always watching and cheering me on. Thank you, Father, that I am never alone, and even when everyone else is leaving the stadium of my life, you have filled it up with an audience of Heavenly support. Thank you for encouraging and loving me as the ultimate Coach in my life. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.