“So what do you think?  With God on our side like this, how can we lose?  If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition, exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”   ~ Romans 8:31-32  (MSG)

“What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along iwth him graciously give us all things?”   ~ Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

This morning I attended the Fun Run held by our school.  It certainly was fun!  It was held on the football field.  The fundraising company that organized the event (www.funrun.com) had the field decked out with colorful banners, water tents, and cones laid out to create infield courses the students would run.   Upbeat music was played and the announcer called out positive thoughts and kept the event festive and fun.  It was such a fun, positive, and highly energized place to be!  And to top it all off (literally), the air was crisp, the sun was shining above, and the sky was a brilliant blue – just what you’d expect for a perfect fall day.  God provided the perfect outdoor setting for this big event!

The best part, though, was all the students!  They’d spent two weeks collecting pledges, and now it was time for the fun part – the Fun Run itself!   With great excitement the running began.  The kids took off at a fast pace.  Parents were inside the track cheering them on.  Students from the higher grades were on the outside of the track, cheering and encouraging the younger students as they went past.  It was great seeing everyone come together like this! 

What I especially liked was that this was for ALL the students in the elementary grades – not just those who ‘made the team’.  Boys and girls were making laps together, all for one common goal (fundraiser for the school).  This wasn’t a competition or an event that placed some students higher than others. 

As you would expect, after a few fast laps, some students started slowing down, others showed signs of struggling.  However, the slowing down and struggling didn’t last for long.  You know why? Because there were so many people cheering them on and encouraging them as they went around!  The announcer kept calling out words of encouragement and doing things to keep the event fun, and the parents and older students cheered, yelled, and spurred them on.     

It was incredible to see what a difference encouragement made!  Students who who looked tired and discouraged one minute, would be smiling and moving on the next when someone reached out to high-five them or called out encouraging words.  I noticed one girl started looking for me every time she approached the curve where I stood, so I knew she needed encouragement each time she came around.  Each time I acknowledged her she managed to smile.   Bless her heart, she completed every lap and even picked up speed to finish strong at the end.  

Of course, as a mom, I was especially grateful that I could be there to cheer on my own son.  So often we’re caught up in the hurried pace of our lives, so it was great to just be there cheering him on, sharing the moment and the excitement together. 

So what’s the point of all this?  Well,as I drove home and thought about how much fun I’d had, and how proud I was of all the students for completing their laps and doing so well, I realized what I enjoyed most was being there to cheer them on.  It was amazing to see what a visible difference encouragement made. 

The combination of the beautiful day and the super positive energy made me certain that God was right there with us, and He was cheering more than the rest of rest of combined.  I say ‘us’ because it felt like He was there for everyone – the students were running and walking, the teachers, the Boosterthon workers running the event, and all the other students, parents, grandparents and friends who lined the track cheering, yelling and having fun.  Yes, God was there for everyone, taking delight in ALL His children, probably pleased to see everyone come together in such a great way. 

Friends, God doesn’t just show up for special events.  He’s always with us,in everything we do, and He’s in it to win it with us!   

He’s there in the triumphs and the trials.  He’ with us when things are magnificent and when they’re mundane.  Most importantly, He’s there because He is FOR us!  Others might not be on the sidelines cheering us on, but God always is!  Jeremiah 29:11 says God’s plan is for us to prosper.  He wants us to have hope and a future!   The Bible also tells us that God will never leave us, nor forsake us, and that nothing we can do can separate us from His love!  How’s that for encouragement?!   It doesn’t matter if we mess up or even if we fail, God is still FOR us!  

God wants us to live our lives and keep going, just like the children on the track today.  Some were struggling at times, but they kept going.  They slowed down when they had to, but they never stopped, and at the end they were rewarded with the satisfaction of a job well done and the cheers from all who were there. 

God promises us an even greater reward for completing the course of life with Him.  When we run the course with God, claiming Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God will give us a reward that won’t tarnish.  He promises us eternal life and rest with Him in a glorious place we’ll one day know as heaven.  That’s enough to keep me going!  How about you?

Could you use encouragement and cheering from the sidelines?  If so, remember that God is always with you.  Even when we don’t know He’s there, He’s cheering us on, hoping we’ll stay on track so that one day He can offer us His greatest reward of all.   

Don’t ever stop believing in yourself, because God will never stop believing in you.  Praise be to God!!