“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” Hebrews 12:1 (HCSV)
I’m not sure when this verse first came to mind this past weekend, but it kept showing up in my head. I’ve learned that I need to pay attention when that happens. This verse is more than just a reminder of those who have gone before us, it is a reminder of those who are still paying attention…to you…to me…to us. What we do and how we do it matters.
It was a great weekend. Our home was the place for friends and love and laughter and memories…and shared faith even in the face of differing opinions. It was a time of gathering together, fellowship, good food and rest. I’ve learned that I need to savor that when it happens. (smile)
As we strolled our way through the hours together I was struck more than once by the blessing of friends with such strong faith and character. These are friends that are years in the making and years in common bonds made stronger by our different opportunities to live out our faith supported by one another. We were just a few of the ones who have spent time in prayer and laughter together…just a few of us who carry the hearts of the others close on days when we’re not together and look for opportunities to gather and celebrate our differences as well as the things we share. A rare thing, indeed, for many, but something that gives life to us in ways we can’t imagine living without anymore. These women are my witnesses to years of life in Christ. They are witnesses TO me of years of faith. We are witnesses to and for each other. Supporters, cheerleaders, prayer warriors and pranksters all bound together in common bonds that really aren’t all that common when you look at it in the light of day.
The witnesses Paul speaks of in Hebrews 12:1 are a little different. They may or may not have been friends with each other. They are more than just martyrs for the faith. They are those who have lived faithful lives no matter what their circumstances. There are differences between them and the friends I hold in my heart. John MacArthur’s online commentary goes into further detail about the ones mentioned above at the following link: http://www.macarthurcommentaries.com/Archive.aspx?question=299# The most significant difference in the ones mentioned in Romans is that they are the ones who are no longer here with us on earth. Their race is over; their missions are complete, yet their witness lives on for us to follow.
There are other witnesses to our lives aside from those who have gone before us and those who remain with us with ties of faith and friendship or family. They are the ones you may not even be aware of today. They are the ones you work with and shop with and see on the road to wherever you’re headed next. They are the ones who may not know your name, but they recognize your face because they’re they pass you in the grocery aisles every week, stand in the movie line behind you or sit near your table in the restaurant. Make no mistake about it. They’re watching us, too. Our actions and our motives and our witnesses for Christ will be examined and questioned more times than we can imagine by people whose names we may never know.
Witnesses…those who’ve gone before us, those who share our confidences, those who share our circumstances and those who are just past the periphery of our awareness…we are indeed surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.”
What we really believe shows up far more readily and consistently in the things we do and the places we go that in the words we say. What kind of witnesses are we?