The Great Cloud of Witnesses

In January, 2004, I ran a marathon in Phoenix Arizona. I’ll spare you some of the painful details of running out of energy at the twenty mile point and being passed in the last mile by a 65 year old woman. I learned many lessons that day, but the thing that struck me the most was how the cheering crowd helped me to run faster and farther than I thought possible. The 26 mile course was lined with thousands upon thousands of people. No one except my dear family knew my name, but they were ALL shouting words of encouragement.

Our journey with the Lord is like a marathon in many ways. We must maintain a disciplined training program to ensure we are prepared. The race itself can be long and hard. There will be times we run out of energy and want to quit, but crossing the finish line will be more rewarding than anything we can imagine! And along the way, we will certainly learn to appreciate the encouragement we receive from the cheering crowd.

Hebrews 12:1
“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.”

This verse follows what we often refer to as The Great Hall of Faith. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews describes many people from the Old Testament who were commended for their faith: Able, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Samson, David, and many others.

At the end of this impressive list, we read that even though they were faithful, “none of them received what had been promised” (Hebrews 11:39). Their reward was postponed until the coming of Jesus; “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). The testimony of the faithful is meant to give us great encouragement. It’s as if they are cheering us on with great anticipation, knowing that one day we will be “caught up together with them” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) to receive our eternal reward.

This cloud of witnesses now also includes the testimony of New Testament believers as well as Christians throughout the last 2000 years. It also includes Brothers and Sisters who love us and pray for us today. As we run the race and sometimes grow weary – sometimes even stumble and fall – these witnesses continue to cheer and encourage our every step; “You can do it, I believe in you! And if you stumble, I’ll help you back up!!”

We can run faster and farther than we think! Yes, the race is long and sometimes difficult, but we’re definitely not alone. Let’s run with renewed perseverance; and when we become discouraged, let’s listen for the cheers from the great cloud of witnesses!

Have a Christ Centered Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries

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