Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Secret Garden Chronicles-Day 8-A Great Cloud of Witnesses
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded
by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin that so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race
that is set before us...
Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,
Who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
"Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God.
You're altogether lovely,
Altogether wonderful to me."
(Michael W. Smith - "Here I Am To Worship")
I read in my devotions this morning the passage from Hebrews 12:1-2 shared above with the pictures of the two doves in the tree. Just as I was looking up into the sky to see if there were any clouds to photograph to go along with this passage, (there wasn't a cloud in the sky!) , these two doves flew in and landed on the tree above me...which was absolutely perfect in so many ways...they signify not only the "cloud of witnesses", but also doves are the symbol of peace as well as the sign of the Holy Spirit! Could there be any greater sign to me that the Lord is in this place?
"Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place;
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels' wings,
I see glory on each face;
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place."
(Surely the Presence of the Lord by Lanny Wolfe)
Who is this "great cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1? These verses follow the Great Hall of Faith found in chapter eleven...an anthology of so many of the saints of old who had gone on well before this was ever written, and it tells about their great faith, many who died as martyrs for their faith, and who remained faithful to God even though they never saw the fulfillment of the promises they had hoped for...and yet they are now in heaven...watching and cheering us on in our earthly race of faith.
And as I sit here in this beautiful place, surrounded by God's marvelous creation, I stop and realize that I am not alone. Not only is God Almighty present here with me, but so are these saints of old...and those whom I've known and loved here on earth who have already passed on to glory...and they are rejoicing to see this day, cheering me on in my pursuit of holiness and peace.
Then I also realize that because God has led me to share what He is teaching me here with you out there in "blogland"...also known as "The Cloud" in cyberspace terms, you are also a part of that "great CLOUD of WITNESSES". Many of you have been cheering me on in the creation of the Secret Garden and in the writing of these Chronicles each day.
It is amazing, as I sit here, I can sense your presence as well, and it's as though we are sharing in this communion with the Lord together...and the "Secret Garden" isn't really very "secret" at all, is it?
It's actually a lovely big open sanctuary, where we can all gather in Spirit and rejoice together, encourage one another, share our burdens...
How? Because God's Holy Spirit transcends time and space. He unites the hearts of those who are of the same mind and spirit. And when these words are shared with you, whether you are in Florida, Ohio, Idaho, Iowa, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, New York, or California...to name a few...wherever you are, and no matter what time of day or night it is, when you enter "The Secret Garden" with me, something almost "magical" happens. No, I don't really mean magical in the worldly, mystical sense, but in the realm of God's Holy Spirit, there is an invisible bond that binds us together in love...that bond is shared only by believers in Jesus Christ, and it is just as real as any material object you may old in your hands, and yet it is not visible to the human eye.
We are a beautiful fellowship of saints, brought together by Christ, and He inhabits our praises.
"But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
Psalm 22:3, KJV
So, today I want to give thanks to the Lord for His kindness and grace, and for allowing us to share in this ministry of encouraging one another in our own "race" of faith. That is what this is all about.
It's not about me and this lovely Secret Garden. It is about all of us, as we are all on this journey of faith together...seeking the Lord's Face in our own secret places...and recognizing that we are not alone in our personal struggles...We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit to guide us...AND we have the fellowship of this "Great Cloud of Witnesses", cheering us onward and upward in our great race toward the prize of heaven. Thank you, dear friends in the "cloud", for being a part of this journey with me!!!
Now here a few other witnesses from in and around the Secret Garden today...Just thought you'd enjoy seeing who else might be watching!
I pray that you have a marvelous day...and remember,
there is a whole great big cloud of witnesses out there
cheering you on to victory!!!
So, how can we lose?