Monday, November 23, 2009

A Cloud of Witnesses

Last Friday evening a woman named Shirley gave a wonderful witness talk about her “cloud of witnesses,” the people in her life who have helped her have hope and persevere in her walk with the Lord.

She talked about how her devout Baptist mother would read the Bible every day, fed the hungry, and worked hard in a war factory to provide for their family once her husband had passed away. Shirley went on to describe friends of hers past and present who had helped her learn what it means to be a Christian. She even named some people in the room whom she counted as part of her cloud of witnesses.
This got me thinking about my own cloud of witnesses. There are far too many to count, but the most prominent ones while growing up and now have been my mom, Grandma, my dad, and my nana. Each of these people has given me a glimpse of God’s unconditional love. They’ve taught me about faith, prayer, hope, selflessness, compassion, forgiveness, and perseverance.
My cloud of witnesses has grown considerably over the years. Kevin, my aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, Godparents, priests, religious education teachers, spiritual directors, youth ministers, chaplains, campus ministers, classmates, roommates, and countless friends make up my cloud. Some of the witnesses I still see regularly, such as my family, my prayer group, and my Cursillo brothers and sisters. Other witnesses come to mind from time to time, though it’s been years since I’ve seen or heard from them. A story they once told me or something I heard or observed about their faith and spirituality resurfaces and gives me pause.
Certainly the many children I’ve taken care of and a number of the people I’ve worked with and for over the years have joined my cloud of witnesses, taught me about different facets of God and His love.
I find it very encouraging that there are more people in my life who have been Christ-like than I am able to count. It gives me hope to think that I might also be considered as part of other people’s cloud of witnesses. After all, that’s what God calls us to be: witnesses of His love, mercy, and compassion.
We need people to show us how to pray and encourage us to grow closer to the Lord. Sometimes we stumble or lose sight of the Son, and our witnesses are there to lift us up in prayer, surround us with love, dry our tears, and help us continue on.
Lord, thank You for blessing me with a cloud of witnesses who have helped draw me closer to You. Please remove anything in me that is keeping me from being a holy sanctuary where You can reside and where others may take refuge. Make me the witness You want me to be. Amen.
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