Your Family's Cloud of Witnesses

My nineteen month old Granddaughter Caroline climbed up in the old cane seated chair and sat down. She gave a satisfied sigh at accomplishing something she had learned not many weeks before, looked around to see who was there to applaud her, and then reached for the keyboard of the computer on the desk. She pressed keys and sang the alphabet song. If she pressed “G” when she sang “Y” it didn't matter.

I saw a sign of our technology driven times: A toddler learning to use the computer at the same time she’s learning to talk.

But I saw something else, too. I saw others sitting in that chair.  I saw her Great, Great Grandmother, who nearly a century ago had bought the chair and the “ladies writing desk” that now held the computer.

Caroline will never know her Great, Great Grandmother. She will never know about her strong faith in God, or how she scandalized the small town church she attended by staging plays in Fellowship Hall.

She will not know her Great, Great, Great Grandmother who moved her piano from a grand family home in the east to a small frontier cabin in Illinois in the 1800’s and then played that piano for the local church.

She won’t know about her Great, Great, Great Aunt, who slept with a pistol nearby and prayed to God for protection every night because her husband was the first sheriff of the county and they lived in the jail.

She won’t know about her Great, Great Grandfather.  He served the church where he was a member, and following the admonition to “Love one another”, did so many good things for his hometown that fifty years after his death, the paper talked about all he had started that still served the community.

She will know that her parents are strong followers of Christ and believers in God’s Grace. But unless she’s told, she won’t know that the line of faith did not start with them.

She needs to know. We all need to know.   In our lives and in her life there will be good times and there will be bad times.  In both we will all need to know about the “cloud of witnesses” who surround us and from whose examples of perseverance we can draw courage.

We need to know that regardless of our individual family history our cloud of witnesses stretches all the way back to the Cross of Christ.

Hebrews 12:1 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Originally published on the blog Everyday Servant

Bob Jackson, the moderator of Everyday Servant is an “Average Joe church attender” dedicated to telling stories that illustrate that God is neither distant nor remote, that He is present in our everyday lives and that his promise, “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) means just what it says. You can find those stories (and share your own) on the blog everydayservant.com and follow him on twitter @everydayservant.