"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, 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)
My dad bought our family several missionary biographies for Christmas, and the girls chose to start with Amy Carmichael's story (we are reading this one--a great series for kids). Amy is an Irish women with a heart for bringing the hope of the Gospel to poor and neglected women. We just found out that Amy's poor health has send her back home instead of on her way to work with Hudson Taylor's China Inland Mission, to which she had clearly heard God's call. Little does she know that she will end up in India, working among the very people God has equipped her to reach with His love.
One benefit of reading Christian biographies is the opportunity to see a person's life from start to finish, to realize as you read about the struggles and confusion in Chapter 4, that God is preparing for something in Chapter 15.
Reading the life stories of saints who have gone before is one way to surround ourselves with that "great cloud of witnesses" available to us. Hudson Taylor. George Mueller. Adoniram Judson. C.S. Lewis. Elizabeth Elliot. Hannah Hurnard. Who would you add to this list?
They are in addition to the "great cloud of witnesses" from the Bible summarized for us in Hebrews 11:
whose faith and hope were more real than their circumstances
whose God was bigger than their enemies
whose reward was worth the cost
whose desires were bigger than this broken world
who trusted in God, not themselves, for their righteousness
who believed, even when God's timelines of promise was much farther out than was desirable
who despite many, and sometimes monumental, failures, were commended by God for their faith
We're not the first Jesus-follower to live this life of death and resurrection, of suffering and struggle.
You'll hear your voice in the Psalmist's cries and complaints. You'll see your broken way in the life stories of the faithful saints now in eternity.
I just started reading a collection of Puritan prayers called "TheValley of Vision" compiled by Arthur Bennet (this article gives a good explanation of how the book came about) to help me pray "meatier" prayers. What surprises me is that these prayers aren't antiquated or stuffy; they're passionate and spirit-filled; they're densely theological, but poetic. The publisher's website posts a daily prayer if you'd like to try them.
What do the cloud of witnesses have to say to you, their sister or brother? The writers of Hebrews says that Adam’s son Abel, "through his faith, though he died, still speaks" (11:4).
What is it that you need to hear from the multitude who have tried God and found Him faithful and good?
Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from Hebrews 12:1. You can download your page HERE or by clicking on the image below!*
Thank you Father that I am not alone! I have the constant warmth of your Spirit, I have my church family, and I have a cloud of witnesses surrounding me, encouraging me to throw of my sin, fix my eyes on Jesus, and run with endurance this race you've laid out for me. Help me avail myself of these great resources You have provided.
*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy, please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!
Scripture is from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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