The last softball game arrived. Throughout the season, my nine-year-old slammed four home runs, and we hoped for our seven-year-old, Lainey, to get one too. In two previous games, she made it to third, but home plate eluded her. This was her final chance. My wife, Jenny, wanted it so badly for her that she felt it in her soul.
It was Mississippi hot! So toasty, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. I prayed for clouds as I panted in my camouflage fold-up chair by the chain-link fence. Thankfully, God sent a gentle breeze that carried my favorite aroma—fresh-cut grass. Then, my focus shifted. I nearly choked on sunflower seeds when Lainey’s coach summoned her to the batter’s box. As those little legs marched toward home plate in her cute red-and-black Sharknado uniform, I thought, “Knock it to the fence, my love.” When coach Jeffery tossed the ball, I saw every seam. Crack! She made contact. My wife yelled, “GO, GO, GO!” as Lainey’s first-base coach signaled with his arms to hustle toward second. With braided pigtails flying parallel to the ground, clenched teeth, and blurry legs, she blew through second. I swear I heard the song Chariots of Fire. As she rounded third, a crescendo of claps broke out. Gravity bore no weight on my wife. She squealed and bounced like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. When Lainey double-stomped home plate, Jen rocketed to the moon!
CLOUD OF WITNESSES
After she returned to Earth, Jen dashed toward the dugout to high-five our pintsize home-run hitter. Jen’s reaction reminded me of Hebrews 12:1-2, which says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings 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.” Who is the cloud of witnesses? The clue is the word therefore. Anytime you come across the word therefore, scroll back to see what it’s there for. The previous chapter lists the heroes of our faith. The writer of Hebrews drops names like Abel, Sarah, and Joseph. These, and many more, are our cloud of witnesses! Ponder this—Moses watches us run our race. The same Midianite shepherd who stared at Pharaoh and declared, “Let my people go!” stares at us. The same Enoch who walked with the Lord until he was no more, notices our walk. King David, whose victory over Goliath foreshadowed Christ’s triumph over the grave, sees us. Our father of the faith, Abraham, who traveled hundreds of miles to a foreign land when God asked him to, observes our travels. Isaac, the faithful son who laid down his life, notices our life. The same Joshua who felt the walls of Jericho rattle the ground after he circled it for seven days, circles us. Noah, who gazed at God’s archery bow, gazes at us. On every side, we’re surrounded by brave men and women who stepped into fiery furnaces, routed foreign armies, and shut the mouths of lions!
Not only do they see us, but they’re also for us! These ancients are our cheer section. On the day God brought us from death to life, they clapped. How do I know? Jesus said so. He stated, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7 NIV) No envy, no bitterness, just a genuine heart of happiness on the day we became family. Perhaps our salvation reminded them of their own.
Not only did these brothers and sisters in Christ witness our healing, but they have also surrounded us ever since. And with hands clasped, they stand on edge as they watch us run the race that is set before us. They shout, “GO, GO, GO!”
WHO THEY IMITATE
At the sound of repentance, they erupt in praise. Where did they learn it? Our heavenly Father. This is His response. They’re for us, because He’s for us (Romans 8:31). Not when we had our act together, but while we were “still a long way off,” He saw us, and ran toward us (Luke 15). The stench of pig slop didn’t deter Him. He embraced us, looked straight into our eyes, and kissed us. Then He threw an epic party because we were lost, and now we’re found. Our Father called for a celebration because that’s just Who He is.
Therefore, since we’re surrounded by family, let us “GO, GO, GO” and make disciples. Let’s not “pickle” between sin and obedience, but run our race well, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Christ is in our corner; He’s pro-Logan and pro-you. Therefore, the other team will not prevail. A day’s coming when we’ll fly to “home plate” and high-five our cheer section. Once we’re together, our Father will make us perfect (Hebrews 11:39-40). We’ll rejoice in Him Who rejoiced in us.
Written by Logan Stogner, 2022 copyright
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