“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1)
A good race is always exciting. The track & field events of the Olympics are especially intriguing because there is no bigger stage – it is the best of the best from around the world.
As the countdown begins, the runners ready themselves in anticipation for the starting gun. And then… BANG!
They’re off! The crowd bellows as the runners race with all their strength to finish first.
But the effort they put in is not only given on the day of the race.
Countless training and practice sessions over the course of days, weeks, months – even years – produce the skill, grit and determination required to win.
Nobody becomes a champion by accident – and it is never without sacrifice.
Imagine the pressure. Not only the fans in the stands, but the millions of viewers watching on TV.
Now that is a cloud of witnesses!
It is the same for believers running the race of faith: surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
Consider the crowds, or “clouds,” of witnesses as two separate groups.
The first group is the entire world.
When you announce your faith in Jesus, all eyes turn on you to gauge whether your faith is real or not. (Not that you owe anyone anything, but remember that what you do will influence those watching – the choices of one shape the futures of many.)
The second group of witnesses encompasses the heavenly host.
It is as if God, His angels, and all of those who passed on ahead of us are constantly watching us, hoping that we make the right decisions, and celebrating when we do.
Realize that we are not competing against each other in this game of life.
Like in golf course, we’re shooting for a personal best.
Others advise us, the clouds of witnesses encourage us; but it’s our individual responsibility to live a life worthy of the Lord.
Run the race like a champion – because you are one.