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]
That verse has been rolling around in my head the past week. Especially these six words:
Such A Great Cloud of Witnesses.
While I know what it refers to in the scripture, it’s taken on new meaning for me lately.
You see, in Hebrews 11, there’s this incredible roll call of some of the fathers and mothers of the Christian faith. It goes something like this, by faith, this person did this thing that was pretty crazy… And that’s repeated over and over.
Then it moves straight from that set of 40 verses into these words: therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. This reminds us that we are part of the church universal. A bit player in the storyline from Genesis to Revelation. Potential tools that God can use for His kingdom purpose during the time we have here on Earth.
But that great cloud has always felt abstract. The closest it felt was in the form of my grandparents who have passed away but left a powerful legacy of faith behind.
I’ve come to see, that great cloud of witnesses is here today too.
In fact, I’ve really felt that great cloud around me this past week.
Women of faith who God has extravagantly allowed me to share life with in these crazy times.
My dear friend and prayer partner of 17 years who is a powerful prayer warrior and prophet, pressing into deeply challenging work.
My ‘cord of three’ who I speak to every day, my best friend in Minnesota and our dear friend here in Houston, who have laughed and cried and prayed and encouraged each another, sometimes all at the same time.
A complete surprise bonus group, a discipleship bible study I have on Fridays, who have become so completely dear as well as integral to my spiritual growth.
A few moms from my kids school who have felt more like sisters instead of parent sojourners.
And then, of course, my family, there at the center of it all.
As each of them have prayed with and for me this last week, those words kept cropping up in my head.
Such a great cloud of witnesses.
If these witnesses are both here in the present, as well as those who have gone before in the storyline of faith, what is it that they encourage us to do? They help us “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” The ESV translation says “lay aside every weight…”
Sin, for me, has been more obviously defined. Lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, gluttony, etc.
But what about the weights that hold us back? The things that hinder us? Those are things we’re supposed to be able to shake off because of this GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
What weighs you down?
For me, it’s the same old weights year after year. Worry. Anxiety. Stress. Fear. Busyness. Distraction.
They weigh me down and they keep me from truly running the faith marathon God has for me. We’re supposed to run this race with endurance and this great cloud of witnesses buoys our ability to do so.
If you, especially in this harsh 2020 environment, have been weighed down by burdens, look around. In addition to being a character in the arc of God’s faith storyline, we are in this time and this place with others running the marathon at the same time. They are also witnesses to our race and we are witnesses to theirs.
Make a list of those around you.
Let us encourage each other.
We can challenge each other, pray for each other, cheer each other on, and remind one another to strip off every weight that slows us down. Call out the fear or worry or distraction and hold each other accountable.
Keep running. And to my great cloud of witnesses, running in 2020 alongside me, thank you.