Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1
Football season is winding down. My son played his last game almost two months ago now. The local high school team had a great run in the playoffs, but their season has finished. Even college football is wrapping up. (It’s a very sad time at our house, saved only by the start of college basketball. But I digress.)
You don’t have to go to very many football games before you realize that folks in the seats have some very strong opinions about what’s happening on the field. Some of them are not the least bit bashful about sharing those opinions. Loudly. And often.
Now a lot of them have those strong opinions because they’ve played the game. They know exactly what it feels like to tackle, to be tackled, to block and so forth. They’ve put in the hours on the practice field, and in the games. At one of the high school games, we sat in front of the junior high coach. He was so emotionally invested in every play because he knew each of the boys. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. He could tell how every one of them had improved and matured.
Then there are the other guys.
They know how to play better than the players. They coach better than the coaches. And they never miss a call, like the refs do, even from sixty yards away and across the field.
These types of folks aren’t confined to the stands at a football game though. I’m sure you’ve run into them more than once. They know just exactly how to fix your marriage, or how to deal with your teenagers, or how cope with your loss. They’ve got all the answers. Most of the time … they’re full of pickles.
The writer of Hebrews uses the imagery of fans in a stadium to encourage a group of believers who were ready to give up. The recipients of the letter faced intense persecution and many of them were deciding this Jesus stuff was more trouble than it was worth. To combat that, the writer challenges them to keep going because they are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses. Not spectators. Witnesses. Men and women who knew exactly what the Hebrews were experiencing because they had endured the same pressures.
You too, no matter what difficulties lay before you in this moment, are surrounded by witnesses. These witnesses know what it’s like to be pressed, to be broken, to be out of answers and options. Some are even like that junior high coach, folks that have mentored you, who are invested in your faith journey. They are cheering you on, they are pulling for you and they are praying for you. Oh, the pickle people may be more obvious, and more vocal, but the witnesses are there. And they’re the ones who have your back.
Trust me. I speak from experience on this one.
If you have your doubts … ask God to make you aware of someone cheering and encouraging you. Ask Him to let you know folks are praying. Email me — I’ll pray. We’re on the same team after all.
Now get out there!