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.Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews talks about heroes of the faith. People, often martyrs, who gave everything to follow the Lord. I am thankful that, in addition to these well-known heores, God blessed me with a number of people who guided me along the way and lived their life as an example of true faith and godliness. These people become a cloud of witnesses here on earth. I am sure few of them understand the role they played in my discipleship. Most of them never sat down with me and talked about discipling me. They just went about their Christian walk, trying to serve God faithfully and love the people around them. By God's grace, I happened to be in the vicinity of their walk. Whether they were Sunday School teachers, pastors, teachers, parents of friends, or people who did not fit into any of those categories but still touched my life, God used them to shape who I have become.
Today our family was able to testify of God's work at another church, the church I grew up in. I met with Pastor Jeff for breakfast yesterday and was so encouraged by our conversation. I was really looking forward to returning to the church today. It has been years since I last attended a service there.
So many memories of my youth flooded back as I walked around the building. It was even more so, as I saw people I had not seen in years. From junior high until after our marriage, the people and activities of that fellowship were a huge part of my life. I even went to school and worked there until I completed high school.
Throughout this time I was so blessed by these people. I really do have such a great cloud of witnesses. As I shared, I looked around and saw them. I remember serving with them, serving them, and being served by them. Of course there are others who are not part of that fellowship who have been used by God to shape who I have become. But there is, perhaps, no other place with such a concentration of people and memories associated with my discipleship as that church.
But God reminds us not to dwell on the past. He uses Hebrews 11 to say, "Keep these examples in mind." He uses this passage to say, "Now get moving!" I pray that as I strive to follow after my Lord, I will please Him. But I also desire to run a good race for the sakes of those who have given of themselves on my behalf.
Okay, I am not quite done. I also pray that along the way I can be counted among this cloud of witnesses for others.