Real Life Cloud of Witnesses – Devotional Series
I love to watch movies or TV mini-series that are based on a historical event, person, etc. Then, I always go to “google” to look up the episodes to access the accuracy of what is portraited. Most recently, I watched The English Games which is based on the origin and development of Soccer. In the series on Netflix, there were many characters and one which was the first paid or professional soccer player. When researching the accuracy of the filmed series, there was not much portraited as factual. The characters were real, but events…not so much. The same was true of “The Last Kingdom”. This is a series on the first King of England. This was more accurate than The English Games, but still lacked truth. The most accurate series so far has been The Crown.
Hebrew 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This scripture always reminds me of a marathon. This year (2020), the Boston Marathon was canceled for the first time in 124 years. The news stated that a virtual race would replace it. Can you imagine, a virtual marathon. I ran my first virtual race this year: The Bill Fortune 10K. When I signed up for the race, it was an in-person race in April, twice around Rockland Lake. As the pandemic hit, it was postponed until August 22. Of course, it became a virtual race as the pandemic continued to persist.
It was my first and will probably be my last. No race day adrenaline, no fellow racers to pace myself against, no sideline cheerleaders encouraging me to keep going…you are almost there…you paid to do this! The thing I love most about running a race (besides crossing the finish-line) is the encouragement I get along the way by the crowds on the sidelines; clapping and yelling out encouraging things like, “you’re almost there!” Or “you can do it!” I loved the first time running the Beach to Beacon (Portland, ME) because they put your name on your running bib. When I heard, “Don’t give up Beth, you can do it!” it encouraged me run with endurance. The best encouragement though is when I know the person cheering me on has run the race before and knows exactly what I’m going through: one who has crossed the finish-line and knows what is left to endure.
There is much to say about the cloud of witnesses cheering you on in life, encouraging you to keep going. I can just imagine the saints saying, “I’ve been there, it’s tuff, but it’s just for a season. You are gonna make it. Keep going, keep the faith!
This has been a tuff year for everyone! Families have lost loved ones to COVID, lost jobs because of COVID, and all of us have felt the stress of “suiting up” to go to the grocery store because of COVID. The isolation and loneliness of being in “lock down” has affected the mental health of many. We humans (most of us) desire other human interaction and contact.
For a NY minute, the Spring Valley Corps was open for in-person Holiness Meeting. We did not sing, did not sit wherever we wanted, did not bring up our offering (I gave mine online through Tithe.ly). However, it was good! I was surrounded by, “in the midst of” a cloud of witness. Together with the saints as we worshiped God. It was just being in the presence of fellow believers that was encouraging, uplifting.
The ingredient that made it good was our presence, encouraging testimonies, but especially His presence.
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
When Hebrews talks about the cloud of witnesses, I look back into Chapter 11 and imagine Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses standing on the sidelines of Heaven cheering me on. And better yet; they were real people. They were not someone portraited in a mini-series in the Bible. The facts of their lives were non-fiction; unlike the TV mini-series I talked about earlier. They had problems, dysfunctional families, jealousies, doubts. Look at Joseph! His brothers HATED him to the point of contemplating murder. What does that do to a person’s psyche? Moses went through plagues; plural, not one. Yet through faith, trust, obedience; they are all home with our Heavenly Father. This gives me the encouragement to run with endurance the race that is set before me. When trials come in my life, I can imagine this great cloud of witnesses cheering me on. “Come on Beth, you can do it!”
Be encouraged today! Remember, Jesus is interceding on your behalf.
submitted by Majors Beth & Charles Foster, Finance Department & Property Department, USA East