Saturday, June 29, 2013

So Great A Cloud of Witnesses!

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MY CHEERLEADERS ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN

Sometimes, when I think about Eternity and what it's like to step over from this mortal life into the Life that never ends, I wonder what it's like - say - after a few hundred years or so. What are we doing--forever and forever?

And then I think of Hebrews 12 which gives me a clue. That's when I smile. The saints are cheering us on! By "saints" I mean who the Apostle Paul meant when he addressed his letters in the Bible to the Christians in various cities. It means "holy ones"--those who are working at becoming holy during earth-time with Jesus' help. And when they finally arrive in heaven, they are holy. They become saints for real! They never turn into angels!

The Church teaches and the Bible affirms that our loved ones and friends are alive and well and now fulfilled and perfect in the presence of God. Jesus declared that those who believe in Him shall never die. Believe it!

According to the book of Revelation, those who died in Christ are aware of what's going on "back here" and they are able to pray for us to Jesus Christ our Lord who then intercedes for the requests as the one Mediator with God the Father through the Holy Spirit's help. These "now saints" are a part of what the writer of Hebrews calls "the great cloud of witnesses."

So who is praying for me? Revelation 8:3,4 tells me. Who is cheering me on when I'm flying low? Who is waving a bell and telling me "You can do it!"? It may be that those who have been closest to us and who prayed for us while on earth are our biggest fans calling out, "Run, sweetie, keep running!"

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us." (Hebrews 12:1)

All glory to the God who sits on the Throne, who hears the prayers of the holy ones gathered there! Saints above, intercede for us all! And always, always cheer us onward in this journey of faith.

One of the Christian doctrines that is easiest for me to embrace and so biblically right-on is the Communion of Saints, that is, the continuing union of Christians on earth with those in Heaven. I prayed the Apostles' Creed ever since I was a teenager in the Presbyterian Church and I continue to do so.  But I never knew what "the communion of saints" really meant. It means that we are still one family in Christ although we may be separated from our loved ones by the death of the body!

In practice, I joyfully make it a practice to ask by name for the intercession of my departed loved ones, family, friends and the godly ones from ages past whom I have not known but whom I look forward to meeting in Eternity. I have special "saints" (both those on earth and those in heaven) whose prayers I ask for when I have specific needs, like wisdom for my creative writing. I have prayer partners on earth whom I call my "Praying Eagles," and I have prayer partners in Heaven--my "Cloud of Witnesses." Those in Heaven aren't able to actually DO anything tangible for me--that is God's business. But they can pray to Jesus and the answers to our prayers and theirs come from directly from God the Father.

How exciting if we could see through the veil between our two dimensions to see how really close to us our "cloud of witnesses" may be! Someday we'll find out! Nevertheless, by faith we are encouraged and energized to keep running our earthly race as they cheer us on!

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