Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

What a good day at church today! I missed the last two Sundays at our regular church. Two weeks ago I was in Oklahoma City, where I attended church. Last Sunday I was still recovering from a cold. Today I returned, but to a different schedule. We had Life Group first hour, and one service the second hour.

That was because of our guest speaker, Brian Sumner. He was billed as a "professional skater," by which they meant professional skateboarder. For the last decade, or more, he has put on skateboarding exhibitions. I don't know if they have competitions, or if it's all exhibitions. Skateboarding came in too late for me to be interested, and my kids never were either. So I don't really know what it means to be a professional skateboarder.

But Brian was one, from the time he was around nineteen years old till the past few years. He had hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It was the good life. He married, had a child, made a ton of money. Then he divorced, constantly fought with his wife, hit bottom.

His testimony is that he did hit bottom, and through the process, found Jesus as his savior. His story is inspiring. His sermon today—after a skateboarding exhibition as we met in the gym instead of the sanctuary. Using Hebrews 12:1-2 as his main text, but also quoting generously from several verses in Luke and Paul's epistles, he talked about throwing off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles us, then run, with perseverance, the race marked out before us. It was a powerful talk, one that I hope and believe spoke to people in the good sized congregation.

As I watched the exhibition, and listed to the sermon, I was struck by the first part of the first verse of Hebrews 12: Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. This refers back to the 11th chapter, the so-called faith chapter, where the writer tells about many from the Hebrew scriptures who lived by faith, not by sight, knowing of the promises of God but never seeing them. Although that's what 12:1 referred to, I believe that cloud of witnesses has never stopped forming.

I felt today that I saw one of those witnesses, giving his testimony both in his words, in his life lived out through dealing with trials of his own making, and by getting the attention of people by doing amazing things on a small board supported by four tiny wheels. I remember years ago a team of weight lifters touring, testifying to how God worked in their lives. These are laymen, though whom God seems to have given a special message of repentance, redemption, and discipleship.

Am I among that great cloud of witnesses? Have I made a difference in anyone's life, to move them closer to God, that is. Not everyone is called upon to speak before the great assembly. Some speak to small assemblies; some to one person at a time. Some don't speak at all, but rather witness by how their lives are lived. Some write instead, articles and books, to instruct and convince.

I suppose, at this moment in time, that's the group I'm in. May I be faithful to that calling, expand my influence, and reach many for the kingdom of God.

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