Balcony People

Are you a “balcony person” or a “basement person”? I read a book several years ago that described basement people as  critics who always seem to have something negative to say, and balcony people as encouragers and affirmers who always urge you on.

As I reflect on the balcony people in my life, I think of Mother Maxine Newman, a wonderful woman in our church. She woke my sister and I up almost every Saturday morning to let us know that she was on her way to pick us up for Sunshine Band. I smile when I remember the mornings that we were grouchy and ill-tempered yet she’d still welcome us into her car with a bright smile.  

 
When I became a teenager she groomed me for public speaking. She took me to a state convention to speak in an oratorical contest. When it was time for me to speak, I was nowhere to be found. I had bolted! I was terrified of speaking in front of hundreds of people. At the end of the evening when it was time to go back home, she found me and told me that she believed in me. And when I turned sixteen and started liking boys she ‘channeled my energies’ in the right direction. Years later when I got married, she presented an engraved Bible to my groom, encouraging him to hold true to the faith and to take care of her girl. Still a balcony person after so many years!
 

I wonder, as you think back, who are the balcony people that God placed in your life to urge you on? Was it a special teacher, a parent, a friend, a sibling, or maybe a pastor or a godly woman in your church? Maybe this is a hard question for you to think about. Perhaps your childhood is marked by abuse and neglect. Maybe that’s your reality even today. 

Can I be your balcony person today? Your very being has been delicately crafted by the hand of a loving God who poured His love for you out on Calvary’s cross. He is constantly making intercession for you. He is the ultimate balcony person. He has equipped you–even through the hurt you have endured–to be a bold witness for Him. You can do it! 
 
The writer of Hebrews reminds us all that there is a great cloud of witnesses–true balcony people–urging us on in the faith. They stand at the finish line encouraging us all to finish well. Among them is one of my favorite balcony people, the apostle Paul. So many of his words encourage me in my day-to-day walk: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:13). I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).
 
It will be glory to cross that finish line and fall into the embrace of this great crowd of balcony people. Can’t you see them! I want to see Sarah and thank her for her obedience that has held my feet to the fire in the area of submission. I want to thank Peter for being so real with his faith. And I’ll search through the crowd until I find Mother Maxine Newman. I’ll thank her for being the wings that hovered over me until I could fly, and then propelled me far and wide into the work of the kingdom.
How about you? Was there a special balcony person in your life that you can praise God for? And are you being a balcony person in the lives of those closest to you? 
 

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About the Author

Karen Waddles

Karen Waddles

Karen is assistant to the publisher at Moody Publishers, a conference speaker, and contributing author to Our Voices: Issues Facing Black Women in America and The Women of Color Study Bible. She and her husband, George, who has been a pastor for the past 35 years, have four grown children and nine grandchildren. Her greatest joy is seeing women experience the fruit of God's blessings when they apply the principles of biblical womanhood to their lives.

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