"The Great Cloud of Witnesses + the Portland Trail Blazers" Steve Shultz
One of the most important things I like to teach about hearing God's voice is..."Sometimes, you've got to just 'do what you do' and let God interpret it for you afterward."
In Psalm 139, David said he could never flee God's presence. God also says in that same place, the details of our entire lives are written down before even one of our lives came to be. That's why AS YOU FOLLOW THE LORD, I say, "Do what you do, and let God interpret it for you."
He already knows tomorrow for you. Walk it out and let Him show you what He planned to lead you into or rescue you from—yesterday.
A few weeks ago, I got the itch to see an NBA basketball game. In Oregon, we love our Portland Trail Blazers. Yet as much as I love our team, with life and ministry, it's been well over 20 years since I've seen our "Rip City" team, or any other pro-basketball game. I suddenly felt it was time.
It turns out the only Portland game remaining from the regular season schedule was the last game. Now you have to know me...when I almost never get to do a "thing" I'm willing to shell out big, doing almost whatever it takes to get a great seat. A couple of hours of searching and with a "stupid ridiculous" price, I had 4 tickets in my hand, two of which I let my daughter and son-in-law have (pictured here).
If I was only going once in over 20 years, I wanted some of the best seats, so I ended up with season-pass-type seats VERY close to the action that I bought for that game. They weren't court-side of course, but they weren't that many rows back either. Let's just say we felt like we were right where all the real action was. AWESOME SEATS!
Now, about my unique athletic abilities...are you ready? I have very little. I was never on a high school team of any kind...but sports is "my thing."
By "my thing"—I don't mean that it's my thing to play sports. Nope. It's my thing to watch because the gifting is not present in this mortal body. Somehow, between my brain and my muscles, the transition doesn't get made.
Sometimes I've asked myself, "How is it that I know exactly what a good play looks like, yet I could never reproduce even a little bit of that same thing?"
I have this huge appreciation for what others are uniquely gifted at in sports—and of course in many other things as well such as: the theatre, the arts of all kinds, mathematics, you name it—it's amazing to watch what people can do with body and brain, am I right?
For our particular row, since our seats were so good, we shared the space with some pretty dressed-up folks who appeared to arrive from church and yet, next to me, if I had to guess, was maybe a former NBA player from some other team. This guy was massively tall and if called upon, it seemed he would (or could) run down and join the game. But what do I know?
What I found fascinating was that when the action was amazing and the Blazers continued to win this final game (which they did to clench the Northwest division title), both me and this NBA-looking "player" stood up and cheered for the same thing. Fascinating! With uniquely different abilities, we each had the same enthusiasm for what we were witnessing!
Where am I going with this?
Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses..."
God is simply clear in His Word that on a constant basis you and I, joint members of the Body of Christ with differing gifts—are SURROUNDED BY A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES—in the same way that we, as witnesses, surrounded these "Trail Blazers!"
Those who have passed to their reward in Heaven, now have become a part of a GREAT CLOUD of WITNESSES who can watch, love and appreciate what you and I are doing. They stand cheering us on, fully admiring what we are now able to do, and it's often what they were NEVER ABLE TO DO THEMSELVES while on this earth!
These loved ones paid a high and very dear price to those "seats" in the great cloud of witnesses. They gave up their lives and accepted the FREE GIFT of eternal life! It cost them everything...their whole life...and yet it was FREE!
That's right. While these now-righteous souls in Heaven have been perfected in every way, they still love and admire what we can do RIGHT NOW...you know, things like loving sinners today exactly where they are. Many of them could NEVER DO THAT while on this earth because God had not revealed that level of grace to them.
And even though they are only filled with love now, they know we are not always filled with love. So when they watch what we do with love, they see from a God's-eye perspective just how amazing the things we are accomplishing while on a sinful earth.
Many who have been to Heaven to visit, come back and tell the rest of us that in Heaven there are huge portals where our loved ones are allowed to come and look into the special events in our lives—things like weddings, births, baptisms and many wonderful activities the Lord is leading us into. They, the GREAT CLOUD of WITNESSES, then pray for us and cheer us on in the same way we cheered on the Trail Blazers this week.
Our loved ones have front-row or "court-side" seats...the very best seats "in the house" where they see the wonderful things in our lives. What a fantastic picture—the picture of our loved ones watching our successes—admiring our unique giftings that they themselves never possessed.
Imagine this picture before they passed away: one of your very righteous loved ones such as a grandparent or mother had dedicated their lives to Christ for most of their long lives. Then in the same time period perhaps, another of your friends or relatives who had lived horrible, hate-filled lives—moments before they died, gave their lives to Christ—and now your mother and this former hate-filled sinner stand together next to each other watching YOU, in awe, admiring what they see—as you relate personally to your heavenly Father.
They are aghast at your inclination to yet-again give love one more chance as you—and for the "umpteenth" time forgive that person and speak to them of the forgiving love of Jesus.
WHAT DO YOU AND I DO WITH SUCH GOOD NEWS?
So...what do we even do with such wonderful knowledge of this great cloud of witnesses who are literally—LITERALLY—surrounding us as if in their own stadium as our race is run?
Here is what the Word tells us to do with this news...
Hebrews 12:1-3, "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. 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. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Friends, you are being completely, totally, regularly, happily CHEERED ON—by those who love you and who have gone on before you.
I rejoice with you for this very reason!!!
Steve and Derene Shultz, Founders
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