Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
In my 20’s, I ran a couple of marathons. They say that the last 5 miles is the worst. Personally, after mile 16, I always began to imagine all the ways I could quit, drop out, anything to just stop.
Maybe that is where you are at in life. Done. Spent. Maybe over with organized religion. Over God. Over people. Maybe out of hope for this world or for yourself. Maybe a cloud of shame and guilt hovers around you and you wonder if you are good enough or if you’re destined for failure. Maybe life seems hopeless because of poor health or difficult life circumstances.
Don’t give up. You’re not alone. Let us cheer alongside you, run alongside you and encourage you with stories of other witnesses in that great cloud that came before us and are with us for now until we are all together again.
I’ve included a picture of my parents with Scott and me from my wedding. They are a couple of those witnesses in the great cloud of many. Dad has trusted in God’s grace throughout his life, even when he discovered he had Huntington’s disease. He believed that God would help him endure it and still live to be 80. He is almost 82. He has never faltered in his hopefulness and determination to be a part of family events and everyday life even though it isn’t easy.
My mother is another faithful witness. She has ensured my father’s care all these years as the symptoms grew worse over the last three decades. She has sacrificed so much to ensure that Dad can participate in as many life-enriching activities as possible.
I know many of you understand this stage of life as a caregiver or as someone with increasingly limited abilities. You are in that great cloud, too.
There are so many more… those who have worked for the betterment of their community, those who speak up or work on behalf of the disenfranchised and vulnerable, and those who have been hurt by people they love… and maybe even the Church, the seed of faith is held in the nurturing hand of God working in every day people from all walks of life.
Persevere. And don’t worry about being perfect. Jesus is the perfecter of all faith, and we can trust him to see us through every trial. Know that there are so many who have endured and held onto the promises of God’s eternal grace and forgiveness and life through many trials.
And when you can’t seem to go on, let go of fear, and reach out for the One who will, if need be, carry you that last stretch.