Your Cloud of Witnesses
My name is Rachel. Recently, I joined ElevateHim as the Missions & Writing Coordinator. God’s timing has been amazing! I am beyond excited He made a place for me here!
I have been running since before I can remember running. It has been the biggest passion and struggle in my life. I started running competitively in 5th grade. I guess it stuck because in high school I earned a couple of state titles and in college I was blessed enough to join Texas Christian University’s cross country and track and field teams. I say all of this to validate what I am about to share with you.
I believe the one thing that has kept me running, even after countless injuries and encountering those who are dream crushers, is that God designed me to run, not running just in the physical but also in the spiritual. My parents always spoke Hebrews 12:1 over me: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Until recently, I have focused only on the second part of this verse – I must run my race and not let anything distract me from God’s plan for my life.
Growing up an athlete has made me very competitive, but I became performance driven, my own worst critic, and too competitive with myself. The better I did, the more value I felt. Sadly the opposite was true as well; the worse I performed, the less value I thought I had. Little lies have big impacts!
Let’s take a step back from me, though. The first part of Hebrews 12:1 discusses a great cloud of witnesses. Who are these witnesses?
Chapter 11 tells us this cloud is made up of all those who came before us, who walked in faith and followed God wholeheartedly. Now those who came before us were not perfect – they messed up, just like we do. They include Abraham (a man who slept with his wife’s maidservant), Noah (a man whose sons’ had to cover his nakedness), Jacob (a man who stole his brother’s inheritance) and the list goes on and on. Thankfully, our Daddy does not focus on our sins! Instead Paul writes, “the world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:38).
The value of this cloud of witnesses is not placed in what they did while they were on earth, but whom they believed in!
While speaking to a mentor about this revelation, she told me, “Rachel, you’re not running your race for the cloud of witnesses; they are there as a sign of hope. Remember, you cannot run your race in anyone else’s lane.” In my performance driven mind, I forgot to have faith. I believed the devil’s lie that this cloud was there to condemn me when I failed. I couldn’t fail because that would not make them proud. I have realized that they are not surrounding because of me, but for me. They are examples of faith and are cheering us on with reminders that my value comes from the Father, not perfection or performance.
In 1 Peter 1:8-9, Peter writes, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” This is the definition of faith. We cannot see God or even the cloud of witnesses, but we have to stop believing the lies of the enemy.
This week I encourage you to search your heart and find the lies the enemy has planted there. Your value comes from God and not what you do, or how you do it. Remember to look to those who came before us – the world was not worthy of them. The world is not worthy of you either, because of the incredible work of Jesus Christ.