08 November, 2011

The Bystanders

Remember the movie, Field of Dreams….Build it and they will come?? Well, last Saturday night they came… I sat amongst 101,000 screaming people in a football stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was quite an experience especially when coupled with the additional 90,000 people outside the stadium expressing just as much enthusiasm but without tickets to enter. Our team played well and lost but the screaming thousands offered all they had in the way of encouragement.

A few days later, the randomness of my mind began thinking of all the days, nights and Saturdays I’ve spent in and around a ball field. Cold Saturday mornings, supporting my son’s peewee soccer team or Friday nights sitting on hard bleachers supporting my daughter’s cheer leading efforts. And the fact that my husband and I have always worked in higher education has led to attending many athletic events. In thinking about these times, I honestly don’t recall many specific games but I have an unwavering memory of the crowds and the cheers and the excitement. I can remember being in Humphrey Coliseum and not able to hear the person next to me speak as thunderous cheering overtook. The decibel level in Bryant Denny stadium Saturday night was compared to jet airliners and thunderclaps!

We, the bystanders, watch and cheer and encourage. Our job is to never get discouraged, to bolster, and to continuously support the players even if the team falters or becomes fatigued.

And the team….how does this loud encouragement affect them? Surely, the cheering instills courage and confidence. I think back to our football game on Saturday and the 22 players running plays were certainly holding our attention. It’s got to be an overwhelming feeling to be on the field and be the object of all this cheering and encouragement. How could your heart not just burst out of your chest? The excitement level must be intense to control.

But what about the players standing on the sidelines who were waiting for their name or number to be called. Obviously, they too were aware of the massive sounds and cheers. To be on this team you are a good, and possibly great player but just not the stars….and yet, the cheers showed no bias. The cheers were for all the team. The cheers were to encourage the strong, the visible, the advertised but they were also there to encourage the young, the unknown, the mistake-prone, and the ones who had not yet played. But the crowd around the stadium only saw the whole team, the effort, and the desire. They yelled: Roll, Go, You can do it, be encouraged, we are FOR you, we adore you, we are here for you…

The sheer joy and passion people have for their team is intriguing to me.

Hebrews 12:1

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? (The Message)

As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. (Good News Translation)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. (New Living Translation)

Do you hear them? If we humans can make loud cheering noise just imagine what the host of heavenly bystanders can do and is right now doing for you and me! They are cheering and urging us on for we too have been given a game plan…GO...Go find those who do not know. How can we not feel empowered and electrified by the heavenly crowd surrounding us? You and I may not consider ourselves the star players but the heavenly bystanders cheer for us just the same. The cheers are to encourage the strong, the visible, the advertised but they are also there to encourage the young, the unknown, the mistake-prone, and the ones who haven’t yet played. That's me! Is it you?

Listen! They're yelling your name...Go, we're for you, you can do this!

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