Have you ever taken the time just to watch the clouds in the sky? It is not something that we do often as we are walking because we have to look up from the pavement to see them and that has its own hazards ! We usually look at them when we are relaxed, when we are sitting or staring out of the window.
Magnificent, aren’t they. There are so many different shapes, sizes, textures and even colours. We can see the shapes of faces and animals in them. Our imagination can flow freely when we get lost in their image. Every cloud is unique of course; there will never be a cloud that shape and size again.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews might have been looking up into the sky when talks of ‘so great a cloud of witnesses that surrounds us “(Hebrews 12:1). He has been explaining to his listeners that in the Old Testament, there are many great people, like the Prophet Samuel and King David, who have been guided by God and who have done great things. Equally, there are those who have suffered and who have given their lives for God and their faith but who are nameless.
These are all the “cloud of witnesses “that surround us as we “run with perseverance the race that is set before us , looking to Jesus ,the pioneer and perfector of our faith ..”( Hebrews 12:1).
This is not the first time that we read of running the race that is set before us. On a Sword of Sacrifice in a Normandy cemetery where there are many graves of those who died in the D Day landings, there are the words “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race , I have kept the faith “( 2 Timothy 4:7). These may well be the thoughts of a soldier in battle but the race we imagine for ourselves may not be a 100 metre sprint or a marathon where we are competing with others.
The race of faith is a hard one and I believe that God does not expect us to run it alone. In fact, the race I think God has in mind is a relay race.
It is a relay race where our job is to run and then pass the baton on safely. We have to win it together, because that is the only way to run this race. We are being watched by these great heroes and heroines of faith, the named and the nameless cloud of witnesses. They are crowding around the track to see us run and they are willing us on.
Let us run the Christian race with all we have. Christ did not give up when the going got tough . Neither must we.
Rev Betty Port