“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Not long ago I received a group email from a friend. The purpose of her email was to thank those whom she considered her “cloud of witnesses.” Those she felt had encouraged her through some struggles.
“Whether you know it or not, each of you have run your race in such a way that you life speaks into mine. In seasons when I have struggled to believe God, He would divinely intersect my life with one of yours, and I would be re-energized to continue my race because I had witnessed you running yours.”
Wow! I was humbled beyond words to be included in someone’s “great cloud of witnesses.” Me, who like Eve, has fallen into temptation and eaten the forbidden fruit. Who in the world could be re-energized by witnessing my messed up life?
I actually memorized Hebrews 12:1b years ago; however, I never paid much attention to the first part of that verse. The word “therefore” tells us that what’s about to be presented is based on what was previously written. Hebrews 11 referenced those Old Testament faith hall-of-famers—the “cloud of witnesses” that persevered, believing in God’s character and the fulfillment of His promises.
Since I had overlooked that first part of Hebrews 12:1 all these years I decided to read ALL of Chapter 12, finding valuable instructions about cleaning up our broken lives in verses 12&13:
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Makes level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
If we are living our lives as Christ followers, we have a responsibility to lead by example. To help those around us who are struggling. It’s just not about our survival—it’s about saving others from stumbling.
Unfortunately, I have only thought of my own witnesses. Those people whose lives were “divinely intersected” with mine. But my friend’s email opened my eyes to the reality that someone might be looking to ME for that same encouragement and godly wisdom I have reaped from others.
With God’s help, the healing that comes from my brokenness will be used for His glory. In the life of someone else!
While searching on the IF: GATHERING website, I discovered a lovely journal available for sale with the words from Hebrews 12:1-2 written on the front. What a perfect gift for my friend.
God has a unique way of reinforcing the Scriptures He wants me to ponder. Oh, but He didn’t stop with the journal. A few days later, while browsing around the IF: EQUIP site, Hebrews 12:1 popped up, beautifully scripted across my screen. And then…that very evening while doing my Bible study homework, Beth Moore’s “Children of the Day,” there it was again. Smack dab in the middle of page 66!
At that moment, I gazed out the window and was awestruck! A cluster of clouds had surrounded the sun, making for an absolutely spectacular sunset. In the beauty of His majesty, God had painted breathtaking strokes of pinks and oranges as the sun slipped behind and in-between those friendly puffs, bringing a glorious finish to the day.
Likewise, we have been surrounded by clouds (of witnesses). Purposely selected by God to reflect His magnificent light. Giving us the strength to run the race of life.
What if we copied my friend and were intentional about thanking those who have hovered over us, like clouds? Assuring us of God’s presence. Making level paths so we didn’t stumble. Picking us up when we fell.
And what if we were more intentional about living out Hebrews 12:12-13? Sharing our stories of perseverance and redemption so that others will find the strength and hope to run the race set before them.
Whether God has us surrounded by clouds or positioned up there in one, let’s run the race He has marked out for us.
A race with the finish line in eternity.