Saturday, June 23, 2012

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

"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, 2 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." (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

Today I was surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  No they weren't the saints that had gone on before literally, as in death, but they were the saints cheering me on at the finish line.  They were the saints running the race in front of me, beside me, and behind me.  They were the saints that prayed for me to beat my personal "best". 

"Let me run the race that is set before me, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith.." (my emphasis added).  Today I was running my race.  I am ever so grateful for my friend and sister in Christ, Andi Stewart.  She was my help today.  When I wanted to give up, just walk, not push myself, or stop she was there.  At one point (the last half mile, after Andi had pushed on ahead) I literally felt as if I was going to cry.  Several times throughout the race I felt really overwhelmed and then I was reminded that as I was fighting through my pain, my issues, my nausea, why I was even running today.  I had/have nothing to prove.  Today's run was for a cause greater than me.  It was to support a woman named Melanie.  Melanie, a single mom of two girls, just fought and BEAT a very aggressive form of breast cancer.  At the moment she is cancer free.  She is going to have reconstructive surgery in the fall and the medical bills are piling higher than her head.  Today's race was to support her. crunchy knee, my stitch in my side, my feeling sorry that I'm still too fat to run as fast as I want...NONE of that was as dramatic, or as life changing as Melanie literally fighting for her life.  As I pressed through the selfishness I was able to sprint to the finish line and hear people calling my name.  What a blessing.  What a joy.  What a feeling.  

Jesus is the reason that Melanie has been able to navigate cancer with grace, faith and beauty.  Jesus is the reason I'm 81 pounds lighter.  My faith in my loving God has given me the power, will, commitment to walk this journey.  The perfecter of my faith was working on me, even today, during the race.  My faith was being made stronger as I realized the beauty of the body of Christ, the church, in action.  As people shared in Melanie's burdens we were made lighter.  Praise be to God for sending Jesus.  Praise be to Him for his loving mercy and grace.  Praise be to the Holy Spirit for his guidance and teaching me more about the character of Christ daily.  Today I prayed that they didn't see me run the race, or cross the line.  Once again I prayed that Jesus would be evident, if even for a moment, through my pain, panting and sweat ;-).  His strength is being perfected in my continued weakness.  What a DAY!!!   

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