06/20/2014—I was recently asked to share on Hebrews 12:1-3 at a conference where the theme was “Run the Race.” It almost felt like cheating since, well, I’ve run a bunch of races and also I’ve enjoyed lots of time in the past studying this passage. However, in true Judi Jackson procrastination fashion, I waited until the last minute to REALLY pull my thoughts together and was very thankful that God gave some order to my scrambled thinking.
After sharing at the conference, a dear friend challenged me to put my thoughts into a blog. So, here I go … in an effort to pull together a short series from this scripture, I will start at the beginning and eventually add the other five points.
ONE: Identify your supporters
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses….” (12:1)
I have always thought of this great cloud of witnesses as the folks from Hebrews 11 (and a bunch more who have walked with God since) standing on the sidelines of my life in true race-supporter fashion, cheering me on to victory.
However, I recently heard a sermon on this scripture in which the preacher pointed out that those mentioned in Hebrews 11 and many of the others whose lives have impacted mine are in heaven, and they certainly aren’t spending their time in glory looking down at me. I mean, they’ve got JESUS right there! GLORY! All eyes are on the Son!
Why then are these ‘witnesses’ mentioned? How about so that I can look at them and learn from their lives? Knowing that each of them walked through difficult challenges and made it to the Hall of Faith tells me that there’s hope for me. My supporters are those that I am encouraged by, whether they are walking with me step-by-step in real time or if they have walked the Christ journey a while back. They build me up, call me out, and point me to the One who promises strength, sustenance, and a hope for tomorrow. Regularly, I hear believers (especially those in ministry) say, “I’m so lonely. Where can I find friends? Who can I trust?” Consider three groups, starting with who are already your friends? Who do you already trust? Nurture these relationships! They may not be living in the same town as you know but, with Facebook, Facetime, and whatever else who use to communicate, you can stay connected.
Also consider who’s a little farther (or a lot farther) down the road of the Christian life than you that you want to get to know? Seek out these people. Some of them would love to join you for a cup of coffee. Others will teach you through their books, podcasts, and blogs.
Finally, who needs your encouragement and influence? Initiate these friendships. It’s amazing how much we can gain from focusing on giving to others. When we turn our attentions away from our personal pity parties and start celebrating someone else’s existence, we may find a deeper sense of purpose and meaning than we ever dreamed possible.
Truthfully, if I’m not careful, I give the air of being a self-sufficient, got-it-all-together, busy-doing-important-things high achiever. But I’m not. Most days, I feel more like a crawling-in-the-dark, what-should-I-do-first, do-we-get-points-for-getting-out-of-bed impostor. I need my supporters and I need to support others. What about you?