If you grew up playing sports, you realize the difference it makes to have someone in the stands rooting for you. When you see your family with their hands in the air, calling your name, you run a little faster and jump a little higher. It gives you a greater determination and more stamina. It reminds me of what we’re told in Hebrews 12: “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us…run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” This paints the picture of a big stadium in Heaven with a race taking place. In the grandstands looking down, cheering us on, are the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11—Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David—who believed and endured, saw Red Seas part, and defeated giants. You’re not running your race alone. All of Heaven, including the believers in your family line who have gone before you, relatives you may not have ever met, are in that great cloud of witnesses, calling out, “You go! Keep running. Keep being your best. You have what it takes.”
As amazing and encouraging as that is, there’s more. After talking about the heroes of faith, Hebrews 11:39–40 says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” This is saying that there are things your loved ones accomplished, but they didn’t finish. It couldn’t happen in just one generation. They didn’t see the fullness; they’re going to see the prize when you finish it. They’re going to get their full reward when you step up and do what God has put in your heart.
It’s going to take boldness, not letting fear hold us back. It’s going to take integrity, excellence, not letting compromise, temptation, or a lack of discipline hinder us. Your loved ones are counting on you. They may have fulfilled their purpose, but their assignment wasn’t complete. Yes, they endured and sacrificed. Some faced injustice, discrimination, and things that were not fair. But they fought the good fight, didn’t give up or get bitter, kept honoring God and being their best. Now they’re in the grandstands. They’ve done their part; it’s up to us to finish it. This should inspire us to not get complacent, to lay aside weights that are holding us back in our race.
Do you hear the cheers from Heaven’s grandstand? All your believing ancestors who went before you, as well as the heroes of faith, are watching you, believing in you, and counting on you to finish what God started. The opportunities and open doors are before you, and the favor is on you. This is your time to shine. Run with purpose. Run with excellence.