I fondly remember the times with my dad working on projects together: renovating a basement, building a playhouse for my kids, installing plumbing, and more. He was a skilled carpenter, pipe fitter, and project manager as well as being a man who loved God. Dad was known for making sure that our work was done right, with everything carefully measured and cut, then assembled level and plumb. I thank God he was my role model, and every project I have done since has his fingerprints on it, even though he has gone on to heaven.

A couple weeks before he died Dad took time to speak with each of his children and grandchildren, and to bless us before he went onward. His words of wisdom to me were to “keep it level” in life, even as he asked me to continue to show God’s grace and love to my wife, family, mother, and other people. I took his words to heart and have tried, by God’s power, to live a life of integrity, honor, and grace that reflect and point others to the love of God that was poured into me.

Several years later I was confronted with some significant challenges in ministry and was feeling discouraged. One day I needed to find some papers and began digging through some boxes. As I sorted through one box, I came across a picture of my Dad and me, taken in the middle of a bathroom. I was smiling as I stood, and Dad stood right behind me—with a level over my head.

That moment was such a gift from God as I remembered my Dad’s words to me. I felt a renewed sense of my call and purpose and thanked God for the gift of this picture. At the risk of sounding a little weird, I also had a sense that God was letting me know Dad and others are still cheering me on from heaven. Soon afterward I read a passage from the Book of Hebrews:

“Since we have such a huge crowd of people of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back… and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1 (Living Bible)

As a runner, I know the strength that comes from people cheering us on as we press on to the finish line. Whether or not you are aware of it, there are people in our lives right now who are praying and encouraging us to keep looking to Jesus and run in the strength He provides all the way to the end. On the other side of eternity, I believe there is also a mighty cloud of witnesses who are worshipping God even as they cheer on the kingdom work He is doing in and through us.

Take time to listen in your soul to the chorus of cheers as you press on and run with endurance through the challenges before you. Jesus has a victor’s crown awaiting all those who run faithfully past the finish line. Then as you feel strengthened and renewed, remember that God may also be calling you to be a cheerleader for someone else who needs encouragement in their journey. As you press through whatever circumstances you are going through, remember the words of Paul, who wrote:

“I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” Philippians 4:13 (Living Bible)

Keep pressing on in your life of worship…and keep it level!

Cheering you on in Christ!

Chris Atkins