According to church tradition, a saint is a person who has “finished the race” on earth and moved onto heaven. We remember these people who have gone before us – whose voices still speak and whose encouragements keep us going when we want to throw in the towel.
Author Joyce Landorf calls them “Balcony People.” Balcony People may be gone, but they are still rooting for us. Imagine the key people from your earliest years, applauding you from the upper row of the “balcony” while you remain on the stage, playing out the drama of your life. Every now and then you can hear the voice of a teacher who believed in you. And the grandmother who spoke life back into you when you thought you would never survive the heartache of that break-up. And the coach whose insistence on excellence drove you crazy – something you now realize changed your life for the better. It’s easy to lose heart in a hope-crushing world. But our Balcony People never stop cheering, “This is no time to quit.”
Landorf warns us not to listen to an alternative set of voices in our lives: the Basement People.
Basement People – whether living or dead, whether accidentally or intentionally – cause us to lose sight of our purpose and resolve. They drain our desire to keep putting one foot in front of the other. “You’ll always be depressed. You don’t have a creative bone in your body. You’ll never lose weight. Why can’t you be more like your sister? You should be ashamed of yourself.” Those are the voices of doubt and intimidation.
But we don’t have to listen to them. Every day we can choose to embrace our identity in God’s family because of Christ’s grace. The Lord is the ultimate balcony person who has poured Himself into our lives through a personal sacrifice, overflowing with compassion. God calls us to be balcony people for others with words of encouragement and consolation. Our assignment is to build up the next generation. We’ve been handed the baton of abundant and eternal life—God’s presence, right now! Let’s be sure to pass it on to someone else—everyone possible!
Rev Dr William Lewis