Cloud of Witnesses

since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which cling 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."
~  Hebrews 12:1-2

On New Year's Day of this year my mother went home to her eternal hope.  She is now in the presence of her Savior, and I have no doubt, that her heart is full.  We have grieved but in reality only for ourselves.  She no longer has a body that is decaying and falling apart.  And she is free.  Free from the trials of this momentary life.  Free from the worries and the heartaches that beset the human race.  Free from the opinions of others and how she had to stand strong in hers.  She is at rest and the most happy that she has ever been.  

My mother was a strong woman.  Of course, in her later years, her physical strength diminished.  But there was a determinedness in her character that never went away.  It probably was a mix of stubbornness and conviction.   Or maybe a steadfastness brought on by conviction.   Either way we all knew that she was a rock, unshakeable and solid.  My mother was someone who would get the job done even if it cost her.  We all depended on her and loved her (plus she was always the one to make the lefse).

However, mom would be the first one to tell you that she wasn't perfect.  She had her character faults and made mistakes along the way.  But the one thing that was unmovable in her life was the fact that she belonged to Jesus.  Times might change, political venues along with that, family could be in a state of flux and her own heart would wax and wane.  Here are a few words taken from her own testimony:
"God has been very good to us through all our life.
We were hard to teach and get attention from.
But I thank Him personally each time I think of it,
for sticking in there and having patience.
We certainly don't deserve much.
I thank you heavenly Father, 
through Thy Son,
that you remembered me."

And so, for as long as I can remember, my mother's life was guided by something outside of herself.  For she knew apart from the Lord she didn't deserve much.  It is this fact, I believe, that enabled her to go through life's ups and downs.  For if you know anything about my mother's life you will know that there were times that it wasn't easy.   

As I look at the book of Hebrews (specifically chapter 11) in the Bible there is a long list of names.  Ordinary people, who by faith, did extraordinary things and others who suffered much.  Some conquered kingdoms while others stopped the mouths of lions.  And what about those three men who would rather be thrown into the fire than bow down to the image that Nebuchadnezzar had made saying,

". . . . our God whom we serve is able to deliver us 
from the burning fiery furnace, 
and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  
But if not, be it known to you, O king, 
that we will not serve your gods or 
worship the golden image that you have set up."

We even have more examples today.  Christians who would rather have their heads cut off than deny their Savior.  Many imprisoned and tortured for what they believe.  Godly saints who sacrifice for others and the glory of God.  These are the kinds of people who, because of faith, are willing to do hards things.  These are the "cloud of witness" who have gone before us.  It was not something that arose within themselves but it was a strength that came from the grace of God.  Those, before the coming of Christ, only saw a portion of what was promised.  Today we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross," for us.  

My mother has joined the "cloud of witnesses" who cheer us on.  They are like spectators, eagerly watching our lives, seeing the race that we are running.  By their example we can be encouraged to look to Jesus who is the perfecter of our faith.  These witnesses know and have experienced that it is Christ who strengthens us and calls us to endure.  So they urge us on, confident in the ever present help of the Lord that we will make it to the finish line.  

"Therefore lift your drooping hands 
and strengthen your weak knees,
and make straight paths for your feet, 
so that what is lame may not be put out of joint 
but rather healed."
Hebrews 12:12-13

There are days where life can seem easy.  And yet, there are other times that the care and worries of this life follow us like a plague.  How is one to endure to the end of this life?  Is it sheer man-power and the grit of our teeth to see us through?  I will tell you a resounding "no!".  Even though we are called to run the race with endurance it is never on our own strength.  The cloud of witnesses knew this and is why they can cheer for us.  They have seen the end result and know that our's will be like their's.

My mom understood and relied on the fact that it was Jesus Christ who kept her and sustained her.  She actually lived longer on this earth than she wanted to but knew that God's love was more important to her than her own desires.   So she lived to be 87.  Now she has joined the cloud of witness,  many whom she knew from here on this earth.  There are others that she didn't know but are now joined to because of faith.

We sang a song this last Sunday in church titled "He Will Hold Me Fast".  Beautiful lyrics with even more wonderful truth of the love of Christ for us.  Here is a link to a video to hear it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=936BapRFHaQ

Christ holds the believer in His strong arms.  And though we often fumble in our efforts to glorify Him, He will not let go of us.  For

"He is nearer than our own soul,
closer than our most secret thoughts".
~ A. W. Tozer

Someday I hope to join the "cloud of witnesses" to cheer on those not yet in glory.  But until that time I will acknowledge that there are those who are cheering us on, maybe saddened by our failures, but yet hopeful and confident that the Savior will keep us and produce in us a trust in the One who causes us to endure to the end.  To Him be the glory!


  1. Thank you for those encouraging words. Sister Jan

  2. Always encouraging to read your writings ~ thank you for the blessings! Jesus is Lord ♡