This Great Cloud of Witnesses

                                       

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

I’m not sure why I always pictured this “great cloud of witnesses” as a band of angels encompassing me, maybe the ethereal notions of the word “cloud”,  I don’t know–and this image is probably quite accurate.  But the truth is, I mentally shoved this into the spiritual realm (often thinking of Frank Peretti’s take on warring angels and demons).  But the more I read this verse, and go over it in my mind, I see and am encouraged by it’s earthly connotations.  These witnesses are our friends, families, co-workers, acquaintances, people at the park and the grocery store and I’d like to give an example, in my own life: fellow believers. 
My good friend and I were talking on the phone last night and she was sharing her thoughts on the recent anniversary of her brother’s death, it’s been seven years.  She’s the only one in her immediate family who is a Christian and she lives oceans away from them (she’s from Japan and lives here in the States). 
We’ve been praying that her family would come to know Christ for many years now, and more recently, there’s been hope on the horizon:  her father is attending church and has expressed a desire to become more involved, her mother has a few close Christian friends in her life. Their son’s death devastated this family, shook it to its very core, but somehow there is hope in the ashes of grief and loss.  My friend was sharing this hope with me.  Tragedy birthing, what we pray, to be new life and regeneration and restoration in their hearts and attitudes and she was saying how good God was and I was nodding into the phone and I was crying because she is right.  He is so good and right and just and true and faithful.  But sometimes it takes other believers to remind us of that, to take us out of ourselves and say, “Here, I know how things look in your life, but here’s the way things really are.  He is providing streams in the wasteland.  He is disciplining you.  He loves you.  He reallydoes, and here’s proof.”
  “…but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25b
Anything you’d like to share that would be an encouragement here?  Speak up, don’t be shy!



*Photo taken from Creative Commons:  First Stop – Bridgestone’s UK tyre retail network

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