Monday, November 16, 2015

My Great Cloud of Witnesses

I ran my first 5K today (Sunday) and had a great run, aside from the fact that I keep pulling the same muscle in my calf, so my leg was hurting a little (and hurts a lot more now). By the way, that's 3.1 miles in case you were wondering.

I wore this sweatshirt (and was prepared to give a witness, should I be asked. I wasn't). 

You're not seeing the whole me because the picture was taken right after the race and I truly looked like crap. Not putting that picture up for all to see.

Here's the back:

My time was 34:50. And I placed 4th (out of 6) in my age group (Not too bad for a woman of a certain age who hasn't run since high school 25...okay 35...okay 40 years ago!).

Hubbles had set up his camp chair not far from the starting line and hunkered down with the Sunday paper and his iPad. As I passed, he yelled out, "Good pace, Sweetie!" What an encouraging guy!

As the finish line came into view, all I could see was a crowd. And I could hear them cheering. Hubbles' white head stood out, taller than the others, and his big lobster claw waved in the wind. He saw me from far away--he told me later than I looked lost, like I was looking for him where he'd set up camp. I didn't even realize I was looking for my support!

But there he was. And there they were. My great cloud of witnesses. Okay, they weren't cheering for me, but they were. Everyone at the finish line was cheering for everyone getting close to the finish line.

And suddenly, I had this very spiritual experience. I saw the crowd and heard the encouraging cheers, and they really did become a great cloud of witnesses (and the fact that I wasn't wearing my glasses caused the blur of the crowd to look more like a cloud!). 

God gave me a glimpse into heaven for that moment. I saw these spectators, these people at the finish line as those who have gone before us--the martyrs, the saints, the people of faith--those who have endured the same things we are enduring or have endured.

It really was an amazing experience. I tried to take a picture without slowing down, but it was impossible. I turned off my music and took out my headphones. It had to be experienced without distraction.

My physical fatigue toward the end of that race was not so different from the spiritual fatigue we face when we're caught up in that which keeps us from being Christ-like or entangled in sin. Persevering in the race marked out for us is easier when there is "a great cloud of witnesses" encouraging us, cheering us on, pointing us toward the finish line.

As I got closer, I heard the encouraging cheers more clearly. I'm not sure if they were for me or someone else, or just for everyone coming in, but they spurred me on. The hill at the end was a climb, but I saw that clock with the time ticking and heard the cheers, and my legs started to sprint (I use that word, "sprint," very loosely, as it was done as well as a 55 year old woman can.). 

Then I saw him. 

He was the only one who mattered. He stood out from the rest of the crowd, and both arms were directing me, both hands pointing toward the finish line. I saw the clock, but honestly didn't know where I was supposed to go (and didn't want to look stupid as a first-timer). All I saw was a bunch of people and a clock.

My husband, my support, the loudest and biggest spectator was right there in the midst of everyone else, but right out in front as if no one but me mattered, because no one did. He pointed me toward the finish line--the race marked out for me--with an energy and intensity that stood apart from the rest. 

He was all I saw.

Isn't that what Jesus does?

When we get tired, we look for Him where we'd last seen Him, where we thought He'd set up camp when we'd first begun the race.

When He's not there, we begin looking frantically around.

Where is He? 

Then we see that great cloud of witnesses. We hear them cheering us on, giving us strength to persevere.

Then suddenly, we see Him!

He's right there, in the midst of that great cloud of witnesses, standing taller than the rest, waving his arms. 

Here I AM!

Our eyes fix on Him. HE becomes the finish line.

He runs out into the front with an energy and intensity that is unmatched by any other spectator because no one else loves us like He does. He directs us with both arms, points with both hands.

This is the way. Keep going. You're almost there. 

And suddenly, we find the strength and energy to sprint (however that may look) toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Run the race, however that may look for you, knowing that Jesus is at the beginning, the middle, and the end. You may be surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but the crowd parts for Him when He runs in front to spur you on to the finish line.

Blessings Along the Path,

sharing this blog with some of these.. 


  1. Wow, Mary! What a great accomplishment, first of all! You go, girl! And secondly, I love the way you pointed us to think about that "great cloud of witnesses" cheering us and even more poignant, our Savior urging us forward into His arms. I love it and am grateful for that little reminder of heaven and our great God's encouragement in our daily walk. High fives to you on that run, girlfriend! Keep it up!

    1. Thank you, my friend! I'm sort of hooked. Very strange, but I'm just going with it, since it's working for me!

  2. Mary, I absolutely loved this post! I am (was) an avid runner and could so relate to the encouraging cheers and the finish line in sight! I hadn't thought of it in terms of that scripture and our spiritual exhaustion and weariness. Love. Love. Love! Thank you for this blessing today!

    1. Thanks so much, Lori! Thank you for visiting.

  3. This race I will run knowing that whatever happens, I'm winning. :)

  4. Mary, I enjoyed your post and how the cheerers looked like a "cloud" of witnesses. What a great visual to help us remember Jesus is cheering and pointing out where to head. Thanks so much!

  5. This is beautiful, Mare, truly. Thank you for sharing your experience, and hearty congratulations on finishing the race!

  6. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop