My team was the purple team. We had made it to the championship and were currently in third place. We had to play the green team, which held second at the time, and whomever won the first set of games would go on to play the blue team, which held first. We played hard, though I felt a bit off. My serves, which helped win the game last week, fell flat or hit the ceiling this week. I grew frustrated and was embarrassed at my lack of skills after last week. But what bothered me the most was listening to the audience cheer for the green team. Whenever they made a "fantastic" play the audience erupted with loud cheers and whistles. Yet, whenever we did a similar feat, the room was oddly silent. I had a vast range of emotions scuttle around in my mind as the game progressed. I kind of took the silence personally and at first it really hurt. It felt like I suddenly had become hated in a sense and nothing I did brought any kind of reaction, either positive or negative. It began to affect the way I played for a while. What use was it to play well if no one was going to cheer or encourage us in our game?
We had to play two rounds and we won the first round, but green won the second, which meant we had to play a tie breaker game. That second game had been rough and emotions were flying sky high. It did not feel worth the effort anymore. But during that third game, something inside me changed. Suddenly I wanted to show the audience that we were worth cheering for too! I felt a fighting spirit rise up inside me and purple fought hard. We won that game and gained the second place spot. The green team was disappointed, but I felt we had worked hard to get that position. Now all we had to do was play the blue team, which had not played yet that evening and were all fresh and ready to take the the win.
As I sat thinking about this last night, I could not help but think about how the Christian life can feel a bit lonely and silent at times. The path we take as a Christian is not an easy road. Oftentimes we find ourselves alone and friendless, with no one cheering us on in our struggles. The majority is rooting for the ones on the worldly path, encouraging them to keep doing what they are doing because to them the path of the cross is foolishness. But we do have Someone Who is cheering us on - He sits on the throne, looking down on us as He did Stephen, cheering us on to the finish line. With the Lord as our Captain, we need to stand strong in our fight and not back down. We need to keep doing our best for Him because He is the One Who is going to reward us in the end. We need to do what He wants no matter what the others are shouting out there.
Think of all the people in the Bible who stood alone, even when it meant death - Stephen, like I mentioned above, did not back down even though there were only jeers shouted at him; Daniel with the threat of being eating by lions; Joseph, with the lying accusations of Potiphar's wife; David standing up to an evil giant; Noah, with all the people around him laughing for making a boat with no sign of water nearby; even Jesus, Who went to the cross to bear our sins so we would not have to endure that shame and a life in hell...I am sure there are more listed, but you get the idea. We need to keep pressing on even when there seems to be nobody cheering us on...because we have the best One cheering us on in heaven and He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!
By the way, blue ended up taking first place after we played another long round of three games. I was exhausted, as all my team mates were, but to be honest, I was glad they won for two reasons: my daughter was on that team and I knew she needed it more than I did. And number two, I did not want to have to play another set of games which we would have had to do if we had won because they were already in first. We needed to beat them again if we were to take top standings. And I was not up to playing anymore. So good job, Blue! Way to win the game!
Thoughts to Ponder:
Sometimes the loudest voices is all we can focus on and everything else gets blocked out. It is hard to tune out the noise and shuffling that goes on in our daily lives, but (speaking to myself now) we all need to do it - every day! We need to shut off the busyness of the daily routine and stop long enough to listen to the still, small voice inside our hearts. God may not speak audibly to us, which I often wish He would do so I would have a clear path to take in decisions needing to be made, but He speaks through His Word, through other people, through the pastor, or directly through our hearts. We just need to take that time to hear His voice and know that He is cheering us on in our journey to heaven.
Dear Jesus, forgive me for thinking everything is about me. What I do should be for Your glory and not mine. I want people to say that they see You in me, and not me in me. Help me to stop long enough to hear Your voice in this crazy life of mine. Help me not to look for the cheers and approval from the world, but focus on Your cheers and encouragement in my heart. In Your Name, Amen.