Today’s Reading: Genesis 36:9-39:10
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been watching the Olympics in the evenings before bed this week. And I’ve been so touched by the roar of the crowds. Every time I hear those crowds cheering for the athletes they are supporting I can’t help but think about Hebrews 11 &12. In chapter eleven the author of Hebrews recounts the stories of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, and many many others expounding on the fact that the reason each of their stories is important is because they acted “by faith” in each of their circumstances. Then at the end of this chapter long list of historic figureheads of faith Hebrews chapter twelve begins with “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame , and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This is the verse that I just can’t help but think of every time I hear those crowds cheering; once upon a time I was meditating on this very verse when God showed me the reality of what it means.
I was running on a standard running track, with lane markings for other competitors, though there were none. And above me the stands were FILLED with each of those people listed in Hebrews chapter eleven along with so many countless more that are not listed in any catalogs of history, but rather listed in that ever precious book in heaven, the Lamb’s book of Life. And as I ran and looked around at each of those faces watching me run this race of life, hopefully with perseverance, they were cheering as loudly as they could… all for me. My grandmother, my great-grandmother, my uncle and others that have passed on before me, some I recognized and some I didn’t but all were cheering for me. As I turned my head back to the track I could see the finish line and there was Jesus, crouched down as though I were a small child running towards Him, with His arms open wide just waiting to receive me into them and embrace me in a big bear hug. But then as I ran, these little black creatures began jumping onto my hands and shoulders trying to slow me down from reaching Jesus. At first it was hard to shake them off, they just wouldn’t budge. The more I looked at them and feared that I might never get them off, because they were slowing me down, the less I was able to effectively remove them. However, when I turned and looked into Jesus’ eyes, His loving pose of waiting to embrace and the creatures simply fell off with a simple flick of my arm, and they were gone. With nothing hindering me I ran with a speed I didn’t have before and as I strode across the finish line I collapsed into the arms of the lover of my soul. His arms wrapped completely around me squeezing me with a strength that I was all too familiar with… it was the strength that I had been running with.
These Olympians have been training for this event their entire lives, as Christians we look forward to that moment of embrace our entire lives; the moment we cross the line between this world and the next and fall into the arms of Jesus, the lover of our soul. But the beauty of it all is that we don’t have to wait until that moment to fall into His arms. Because He is always with us, His arms are always wrapped around us. He is always there to scare away the demons, to shine the light of His perfect love into the darkness of our fears and make our doubts and hesitations flee. To run the rat race of life most effectively, we focus on the author and perfecter of our faith… and everything that hinders just melts away in the heat of the mid day Son.
Keep running my friends, we’re not in this alone we are surrounded by a GREAT cloud of witnesses, both in heavenly realms and right here before our very eyes. Can you hear us? We’re cheering for you right now. Listen for the crowd, sometimes distant in the rain on the roof or leaves in a summer breeze. Sometimes the crowd roars in the wind of a raging storm, the Father’s clap of approval in the thunder, the flash of His lightning as He throws His fists up in a shout of victory. “You did it!!!!!”
Keep running my friend. Keep running.