A huge crowd has gone before me.
They were faithful here on earth and are now receiving their reward in heaven.
My family has had a long history of being people of faith. My grandparents immigrated to the US from the Netherlands during a time of discontent and division in the Reformed Church. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, their parents, their grandparents and on and on make up a big portion of the faithful ones from my family who have gone home before me.
“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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12: 1-2. Every time is read this, I visualize a big bunch of Dutch people in their wooden shoes cheering me on as I run the race God has set before me.
For generations, my ancestors have been farmers – both here and in the Netherlands – who planted the seeds but then had to trust God to water them and give them sunshine to grow. It’s easy to see in farming how God has a direct affect on the success or failure of your crops. I was raised in a small farming community in Iowa and I will never forget the standing-room-only prayer services we had when the crops needed rain. There was never any doubt about who was in control.
I know my mother is in the front of my cloud of witnesses in heaven – clapping loudly and yelling encouragements. She was never a quiet person so I’m sure she’s not quiet in heaven. My crowd in heaven also contains other Christians who were my role-models here on earth – challenging me, teaching me and loving me.
And, for many of you here on earth, someday I will be in your cloud of witnesses, cheering you on as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus here on earth, running the race each day and looking forward to joining me in our forever home in heaven.