On Friday afternoon, we drove to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to pick up Jamie (our younger daughter) as she returned from Ghana. (She also spent a wonderful week in Scotland on her return.) She spent three weeks working in the Village of Hope. Picture hundreds of children in this place having the opportunity for an education, meals, and a safe place to sleep each night. At least seven of these children had formerly been working as slaves.
She is full of stories, experiences, and ways that God was at work over that three-week period. While we are delighted to have her home, we are so grateful that she was able to go on this trip and have these experiences. We have spent these last few days looking at pictures and hearing these fascinating stories.
This morning, I began reading excerpts from Gregory of Nyssa (331-396). This fourth century church leader was incredibly influential in the early church. He believed that the main use for the Bible was to enable one to grow in virtue.
In response to requests for guidance in living a godly life, he wrote the following:
At horse races the spectators intent on victory shout to their favorites in the contest, even though their horses are eager to run. From the stands they participate in the race with their eyes, thinking to incite the charioteer to keener effort, at the same time urging the horses on while leaning forward and flailing the air with their outstretched hands instead of a whip.
They do this not because their actions themselves contribute anything to the victory; but in this way, by their good will, they eagerly show in voice and deed their concern for the contestants. I seem to be doing the same myself, most valued friend and brother. While you are competing admirably in the divine race along the course of virtue, lightfootedly leaping and straining constantly for the prize of the heavenly calling, I exhort, urge, and encourage you to increase your speed.
(Gregory of Nyssa, from The Life of Moses, cited in Richard Foster’s Devotional Classics, p. 123)
There is something about this excerpt that I really like. Perhaps it is the image of the spectators cheering on the participants and the horses in the race. Now that is what I want to do. I want to cheer on anybody who does good. I want to cheer on anyone who does what is right. I want to cheer on anyone who is headed in the right direction.
Maybe I am thinking about this today because all around us are men and women who need this kind of encouragement.