Cheering Others On

airplane.jpgOn 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.

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9 thoughts on “Cheering Others On

  1. Jim,  I find that as I get older (maybe I should say more mature, it sounds better :)), I am more in the encouraging role than I was as a younger person.  I think one of the most important things we do as parents of adult children is to encourage them toward good.  We no longer have the responsibility to make decisions for them like we did when they were young, but still our presence is important, if nothing more than as a reminder of the values we tried to instill in them growing up.  And in the church, too, this is so important.  The church I attend has a growing segment of young families.  Some of the things they plan and the worship style they promote may not be to the liking of some of the "old codgers."  But it is important for the "old codgers" to set our feelings and preferences aside and encourage the younger members toward good, whatever that may be.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it is part of aging gracefully and graciously.  Thanks for the reminder.  (And, glad to know Jamie is safely home!)

  2. jim,
    excellent post and also very thought provoking.  that is a very different perspective on horse racing but also an insightful one.  also, encouragement is something we don’t get enough of and can always use more.  i really enjoy reading our daily posts and am so happy you are staying in waco!  keep up the good work, I know that God is very pleased with everything you do!
    chris

  3. I love this image of cheering on the horses in regards to cheering each other on in our journey. I have a spiritual director who does this for me on a regular basis, always letting me know she is there holding me up before God. I intend to share this with her.
    I’m not sure how I got to your site but I come back on a regular basis now. You often leave me uplifted by your writings.

  4. Jim, We really need this kind of encouragement. It reminds me of the words concerning Jesus, that a bruised wick he would not break, or a smoking flax (or whatever) he would not snuff out. But so often we can, even if by neglect. We need to encourage one another daily, and so many struggle greatly. And pray.
     
    Thanks.

  5. Connie,I really like what you say about aging gracefully.  Very good!I also like what you say regarding allowing younger people the space and room with a willingness to set our preference and feelings aside. 

  6. Chris,Thanks so much for your kind words regarding the blog and the various posts.I completely agree with what you say regarding the need for encouragement.  Thanks so much. 

  7. Dana,Thank you so much for your kind words regarding the blog.  Glad you are coming back, again and again.