Wednesday in the Word: Look at the Clouds

Hebrews 12:1 NASB “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

The other day, I was listening to the biography of a professional wrestler I like watching. At one point, he spoke about all the greats who came before him. He told of their influence on him professionally and personally. Looking back, he saw how they impacted his own journey in the business.

His words made me think of this verse in Hebrews in a different light. I’ve pictured it more like people who went before us watching like an audience. We run. Others watch. Those making up the audience have already run the race, and we can learn from their examples. But I’ve mostly pictured it in examples like Abraham, Paul, and other biblical examples of faith lived out in life.

They make up our cloud. And we should learn from their faithful lives. But they don’t make up the entire cloud. I think of Priscilla who was like a grandma in the church where I grew up. She made it clear faith and fun were not enemies.

I think of my grandma, grandpa, Bonnie, Ross, Betty, and so many others who gave their time, energy, and love to teenagers at camp each summer. They gave themselves so kids would know Jesus loves them.

As I direct camp each year and volunteers give a week of their vacation, we have these who served and have passed on as part of our cloud. They helped shape the ministry we now serve in. They shaped us as well.

Even though I know it’s what the verse refers to, I don’t think our cloud is made only of those who have already reached the end of their races. I can think of many who are still daily living their faith as an example.

Bonnie (a different one), DeAnn, Ramona, Ruby, Ralph, and Lee are a few of those making up my camp cloud of witnesses. They went before me. They served faithfully at camp and some still do. I wouldn’t be who I am without their testimony. And though it isn’t a visible thing, I believe they are in the stands cheering me on.

I think about my writing life too. I have many who have shaped me as a writer and speaker. People who have poured their wisdom and experience into me.

These aren’t great writers and speakers of the past who’ve passed on. These are great writers and speakers who are alive and writing today. Any list I made would fall short of the many men and women I’ve had the privilege to learn from at conferences. But there are a couple I’ve taken key lessons from in my life as a writer. Some of those lessons even move beyond the written page into other areas of my life.

Kristen Heitzmann’s presentation gave me the confidence I needed to write in the pantser style most comfortable to me. Discouragement was hounding me, because every other author I heard was pushing plotting as the way to make a great book. To do for others through my writing what her writing has done in my life is my goal as an author. Seeing that a great book can be written with a less planned out, methodical approach released me from what held me back.

Other lessons have shaped me as a writer and speaker in both physical and spiritual ways. Linda Goldfarb’s reminder not to chase the next best thing if it isn’t God’s next best thing for me has shaped how I choose what I add or remove from my list of things to do. And her encouragement to remember who I am and put me into all I write and speak gives me a gauge I can use to measure all I do.

These men and women make up my cloud of witnesses. They also give me a nice starting point for a praise filled prayer time!

What about you? Who makes up your cloud of witnesses?

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