I think every boy dreams of standing at the podium, accepting the MVP trophy for the Super Bowl, in front of a crowd that is cheering wildly. Ok, not every boy. Some don’t like football. I’m not sure what girls dream about, but in a small degree, we all like the idea that we could be recognized for our achievements in our profession. Reality sets in too often and we settle for getting by. Bessie Coleman didn’t settle for reality. As an African-American woman, she faced two major obstacles to her dream of becoming a pilot: she was a woman and she was black. Both of those qualities would keep her out of flight school in America. So, she saved up the money and went to France to get her pilot’s license. She became a daredevil pilot and performed before cheering crowds. She fought for dignity for African-Americans in her own way: refusing to perform before “whites only” crowds and giving up on a dream of making a movie when her role portrayed her stereotypically.
Bessie Coleman achieved her dream of flying and gained the accolades. I wonder how many of us still harbor, in the back of our minds, the thought of crowds cheering our work in our chosen profession. As a teacher, a note from a parent could make my day. As a writer, comments that tell me how my writing helped thrill me. As Christians, most of us go quietly about our days hoping to make a positive impact on others, but not expecting cheering crowds. But wait. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Never thought you’d have crowds watching you as a Christian, did you? Who is in that great cloud of witnesses? If you go back to Hebrews 11 you see an amazing roll call of faith leaders. As the author of Hebrews talks about all the people who showed faith that wasn’t fulfilled until the time of Jesus, many who were persecuted and killed for their faith, he concludes his statement by pointing out that these people of faith are watching us and cheering us on in the race to live our faith. Let’s face it, our “race” isn’t a 100-meter sprint. It’s not even a marathon. It’s a hyper-marathon steeplechase. Some of our problems in running this race come from our own sins. The crowd cheers us as we throw those sins off. (No, it’s not easy to do that. That’s why we need our cheering section.) Many of our problems come from the obstacles life places in our way. Our cheering section urges us on to greatness as we jump over, run around, or plow through the obstacles of life.
That sin that entices you may not seem like a big one, but it will hinder your race. You may think no one notices, but your cheering crowd does, and they are urging you to throw it off or not give in. The obstacles of life may seem too great. You may want to give up. The cheers of your loving crowd keep urging you to go on. It’s easy to think that we are insignificant in this amazing world we live in. You may think that you are unimportant and that what you do doesn’t matter. There is a whole cloud of witnesses that disagrees. They are cheering you on because you are a follower of Christ and you make a difference. If all you do in life makes a positive difference in leading just one person towards Jesus, you have earned the cheers of the crowd.
Oh Lord, it’s easy to forget how valuable You think I am. There are so many more important people in this world. Yet, Jesus persevered and died on the cross for me and You love me. Help me live in that love.