So, I have to say, I love my Wartburg small group gals! I get to meet with them on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and they inspire me to keep seeking God.
Last night we talked about a part of the Bible that is really wild:
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a
Did you catch that? Heaven is watching you! In the previous chapter, the author of Hebrews lists the “greats” of the Christian faith and their obedience to God-how they followed Him even when they couldn’t see the outcome or their life was demanded of them. All the people listed had already died when Hebrews was written. Yet the author says- “we are surrounded” by these ones! To me the context seems like the saints in heaven are cheering us on- saying, “Keep going! We did it and you can too!”
We often feel so alone in our walk with Jesus, but our faith is not based on feeling. Even when we pray by ourselves, we are not alone. Jesus said in the sermon on the mount “When you pray, go into your closet alone and pray, ‘Our father…” Isn’t that weird? To use a plural pronoun when I pray “by myself”? Christian prayer at a minimum involves 4 persons- you, Father, Jesus, and Spirit. But there really is a crowd that gathers when we pray- we get the attention of angels, we get the attention of demons too. And then there is the cloud of witnesses…this party is getting packed!
Now we have to be careful to not ascribe our “earthly” minds (the way we presently think) to the saints in heaven. They are not watching us to spy on us or catch us in sin- they are just what the Word says they are- witnesses. Witnesses are observers and they don’t pass judgment. But I would go so far to say that these witnesses are actually on “our side”- cheering us on, if you will.
Isn’t it strange to think that Paul, Isaiah, or David might know your name? To imagine that some of these great saints might actually be saying to Jesus or each other, “I can’t wait till I get to meet Amy face to face.” Wow! Thinking about the Lord and the cloud of witnesses cheering me on brings me so much encouragement to keep saying yes to Jesus everyday. Thinking about praying alone isn’t so “lonely” anymore.