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
Before you read the scripture, I bet you saw the title and thought of computers, data, and what it means for us to store digital information in the cloud. But there is another cloud mentioned in Hebrews 11. A cloud of witnesses. Who is it that makes up this company? Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Sarah, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. What a group it would be if we could gather them together today, in the flesh, and host them all in one setting. What would fellowship look like? How long would it take for us to ask all the questions on our mind, to hear all their stories, and to glean their advice and encouragement?
But we can imagine it, right? One of the themes of Michael Card’s writing is ‘reading the Bible with your imagination.’ He encourages us to enter into the stories we read and imagine what the people were thinking, why they did what they did, and what they would want us to know from their mistakes and their acts of faith. (And, God’s reactions.) As I go back and review chapter 11 and the many devotionals written on each character, I can ‘imagine’ some of their encouragements.
Abel ~ “Carve out your own faith apart from your parents and follow God to the letter.”
Enoch ~ “As the world caves into lawlessness, prepare to keep yourself pure even if hated and made the brunt of mockery.”
Noah ~ “Don’t get tired of obeying God – even when He’s quiet. Stay faithful.”
Abraham ~ “Climb Mt. Moriah and believe in God’s goodness no matter what.”
Sarah ~ “If you’ve hurt your testimony, stop hiding. Get up and take a second run.”
Yochoved ~ “If you hold your child of promise, God’s plan will prevail.”
Six out of 15 voices. They blend together. Each is passionate and insistent on being heard. Not one is distinguishable above another. Each cheer is lifesaving. We must take time to review each of their stories to internalize their encouragement on a bigger scale. We have not begun to mine their stories for gold.
Don’t let me be afraid to tell my own stories of fear and faith and victory. In them are sermons for the next generation. Amen