In light of my recent emails about comparing the spiritual life to running a marathon, I cannot help but share a new perspective.
Yesterday, at the base of Heartbreak Hill (mile 20 of the Boston Marathon), I cheered on my younger brother running his first marathon (and Boston nonetheless, like his big sister!). Being on the sidelines, I learned just how important our role is for the runners. The runners depend on us. They come to the sidelines for high fives and orange slices, but more importantly because they need our encouragement! I was particularly struck by a runner who raised his arms and said to crowd, "We need you to be louder!! We're going uphill!" The runners need our cheers, claps, whistles, bells and yelling out their names. They need to know that what they're doing is still worth it (because it gets to a point when it doesn't seem like it anymore.) They need to feed off our energy!
And not just that, but the runners need every type of person on the sidelines. They need to hear the loud booming voice of a man yelling, "You can do it!", to the sign-holders, to the "Wooohooo!" of girls, to just the constant clapping, to the funny phrases shouted out and everything in between. Perhaps the most overlooked sideline influence are the children. Just off to our right was a little girl about six years old who diligently held her hand out for a high five from every runner that went by her. It reminded me so much of what Jesus said, "let the children come to me" because it was obvious how much joy this child brought the runners. I saw runners go out of their way to get a high five from this child. They thanked her tremendously. Adults gave out high fives but it wasn't the same. Something about the child's presence gave the runners a new hope.
So while being a runner is a phenomenal experience, so is being a cheerer. I think we forget that in the spiritual life. I think we forget that while we're running our own race, we're also on the sidelines for others. We forget that they need our encouragement, claps and whistles. We don't realize how much our presence makes a difference. We underestimate the boost we can give them.
I'd like to share the video of when my brother came over to meet us on the sidelines. He said that after seeing us he didn't stop at all on Heartbreak Hill (or until the end!). You can watch it here:
We need each other on our journey to Heaven. Let us make a renewed effort this Easter Season to encourage one another!
I think God's plan is unfolding some more, as it seems this role as "cheerer" is what I am doing! Keep the prayers coming because the book is almost half way done!