I tried so hard to watch the opening ceremonies to the Olympics on Friday night. I got about halfway through & just got too tired & went to bed. But the parts at the beginning I did see left me so touched...all the spectators were cheering for the athletes coming into the stadium. People on their feet, clapping, cheering, smiling, taking pictures. You could feel the atmosphere even through the television.
I got a little teary, and then I started thinking...this is the closest thing I have ever experienced that could even prepare me for what Heaven will be like. "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' " Revelation 7:9-10
I can only begin to imagine what it was like to be part of the crowd at the Olympic Stadium on Friday night...how loud it was, how much unity there was in the building. What an amazing feeling that will be once we get to heaven--to be part of a multitude that "no one could count." Wearing our "racing uniforms" and waving our "flags," giving praise to the Only One Who Deserves Praise.
And then I thought about that other passage in Hebrews 12:1...in chapter 11, the author talks about all those great men and women of faith. Those who have gone before us, paving the way. And then the author of Hebrews says, "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (12:1-3)
So I picture myself now, not as part of the Olympic crowd, but as one of the athletes. I rush in to the stadium, dressed to compete, waving my team's flag..nervous, but excited about the opportunities ahead. As I get to the front of the line where the cameras are, it hits me that everyone in the world is watching this moment. I panic a little, and then I realize, "these people are cheering for ME." I remember that I've trained hard for this. I know what to do and Whose I am. I throw off every weight, every worry, every bit of nervousness about the race ahead. I know I'm prepared. I fix my eyes on the prize...
I happen to believe very literally in the Bible. I take every word as God inspired, yet sometimes I forget that it really means what it really says. When I think about that passage in Hebrews, I realize....all those famous people of faith--Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses--those people I look up to in the Bible & think I could never have as much faith as they do....those people are cheering for ME.
I have the courage and the confidence now to throw it all off...all my losses, all my failures prior to this day no longer matter. It's about here, and now. And about The One I am following.