On my holidays I was asking Jesus to show me what He was saying to me as I was enjoying my holiday. This came to me as I sat at the MCG and watched days 2 and 3 of the Boxing Day test match between New Zealand and Australia. It was very encouraging for me.
In Hebrews 12 we read, "
"12 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
When visiting the MCG to watch the second and third days of the Boxing Day Test, I was quite impressed with the size of the stadium and being in a crowd of 60,000 people was at times quite overwhelming. There were 40,000 on the third day. As I was taking in the atmosphere, I was drawn to the passage in Hebrews 12:1-3 that talks about being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. It was fantastic to think that we are surrounded by witnesses that encourage, cheer us on and support us in becoming who God has made us be and to cheer us on to be successful in the good works God has made us for.
When I first read the passage I thought of the heavenly beings that are watching and cheering us on. But then I thought this cloud of witnesses may include the people who have died before us and are waiting for us to join them. Through my experiences over the last 12 months with the challenges with my family, I have realised that the cloud of witnesses also includes people who God has placed around us. I have been so blessed with the 4 key men God has used to encourage me, the close friends and family members, the families I work with, the teachers and staff members that work with me at Faith Christians School of Distance Education. Often God just brings in strangers that He uses to encourage me. Through my experiences, I have been greatly humbled and have needed to ask for help and allowed people to love me, pray for me and my family and support me in listening to God and learning to walk in the path God has placed for me. They have been able to speak into my life and help me to walk with integrity.
A huge part of this process has been learning that the crowd of witnesses are not interested in what I look like. They understand what my identity is in Christ and have ensured that I seek God to find out what He is saying. I have been blessed that they want God's will done for me and my marriage and family and have continued to pray into my situation. A huge role has been just knowing they are there, watching and encouraging. Each one has had a specific role given to them for God to encourage me to complete all God has given me to do.
When watching the game and observing the stadium I noticed a number of different roles that were played by people who attended the test:-
Players of the game - in our life we have those who are working with us closely to do what God has called us to do. They are playing the game with us.
Coaches - we have a key person or two that we talk to that support us in developing strategy and ensure we have a plan of how to win the game.
Support people that run on and supply drinks, medical help and bring out fresh equipment - in our lives some run in and encourage, give refreshment and support and provide that personal touch when we are lagging. They help us when we are not well and are overwhelmed.
Commentators, radio broadcasters and TV crew – we do have people who are watching and share what they have witnessed us do when it is an encouragement to others.
Very keen supporters fully dressed in supporter gear and very vocal – God places some very excited people who love watching us succeed and want nothing more than us to become all God has made us to be and to achieve the good works God has made us for. They keep cheering no matter what the action is. They are for us and are a constant noise in heads. These people do not care about the state of the game. They just keep cheering like the Balmy Army.
The quiet supporters - they cheer the highlights and ensure that we have encouragement when tough.
Those who take their books and read and only glance up when exciting things are happening - we have people who are there and just look up occasionally. They pop in and out of our lives at random times.
A huge blessing is that the witnesses help us run with perseverance. When we struggle they are there to cheer us on. They also ensure that every small thing that we struggle with including sin is noticed and they can support us so we are not entangled in anything that will hold us back from achieving all God has for us. In Ephesians 2:10 We read that God has made us for specific "Good Works" and so these witnesses encourage us, support us and cheer us on so we can be successful.
When looking at this idea, I realised that God has also called me to be part of the "cloud of witnesses" for people around me. He has given me a role in other people's lives to encourage them, support them and cheer them on. I have to be very careful I fulfil the role God has called me to and sometimes it is to take a drink of water out and then move on. For some, it is just sitting in the top tier of the grandstand and from a distance clapping and yelling support. Sometimes I am part of the cloud of witnesses for someone for an extended period of time and sometimes just for a day.
The most important thing is that we keep our eyes firmly on Jesus, the author of our faith. He will perfect our faith in Him as we keep our eyes on Him. Any trial we go through will be worth it as we understand what the prize or reward is for completing all God has given us to do. Jesus endured amazing opposition. The people who resisted or opposed Him the most were the religious people. Yes, the opposition will come! The ones who accepted him were often the ones who had sinned the most and accepted the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offered. This meant they were transformed by the message that Jesus brought to the world. Just because people are religious does not mean they are the witnesses that God has placed around you to cheer you on. The crowd of witnesses that God has placed around you will ensure you are successful in what God has given you to do.
Ask God to surround you by people who will cheer you on and will support you in becoming all God has made you be. They will ensure that you will get through the hard times and grow through them and keep focused on the good times. Be humble and let them know what you need and put time aside to share with key people God has placed in your life. Also, as you have witnesses, you are also able to be in the "crowd of witnesses" for others and cheer them on. Get you supporter gear on and get ready for the adventure God has for you and learn to cheer on those God has placed around you!