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 NIV
A few days before she died, a godly woman was granted a view into heaven. When asked what she saw, she said, “People. Lots of people.”
When asked what they were doing, she replied, “They are waiting to welcome me.”
“Who are they?” was the next question. The woman started telling of family members who had gone on before. Then she named several whom she’d led to the Lord during her lifetime. Before long she stopped, tired of talking and awed by the number of people who were awaiting her arrival.
This story reminds us of the “great cloud of witnesses” a Bible writer describes in Hebrews 11 and 12. It’s so easy for us to feel unnoticed, unappreciated, even forgotten by our friends, family, and fellow church members. We forget that we have an invisible crowd of believers who have gone on before us, many of whom suffered persecution and horrible deaths for doing right, for staying faithful to the tasks the Lord had given them to do. They are encouraging us to keep on, to throw aside everything that weighs us down and keeps us from running the race marked out for us.
Father, help me to remember that I am not alone in this task. Many have gone on before me, leaving an example of faithful service. May I one day hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).