Hebrews 12 New International Version (NIV)
12 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.
This is the verse that immediately came into my head, anticipating my daughter’s baptism yesterday. Maybe because both the online bible study I’ve been doing (She Reads Truth) and the summer sermons at church have both been on Hebrews, or maybe because a great cloud of witnesses were there to celebrate and support her and us. Grandparents and great-grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends, And even more friends and aunts and uncles and cousins were cheering her on from the different places they were that day. And this is not even taking into account all the church members, and the friends and loved ones I shared the news with via social media.
She said, when getting ready that morning, that there should only be a few “best days” of your life – when you’re born, when you’re baptized, and if you get married. (I added in that if you have kids, that day is a “best day” too). I love that she knew it was a day that mattered in a really-big-change-your-life kind of way.
She brought baptism up to me. It wasn’t even on my radar yet.
And yet, there we were. After a few months of talking and praying about it, of letting her feel it out, ask questions, answer questions, the moment finally came.
She is the 8th generation from my family to be baptized/members of that church. A great cloud of witnesses not only were there for her yesterday, but a great cloud goes before her as well.
What I hope, what I pray, for my daughter, is that she grows into taking this verse to heart. That she will never feel alone, never forget her great cloud of witnesses – before her, with her, and even – after her. That she will run the race before her with conviction of heart, knowing that there are many races, but the only one she is called to run is hers and that she can do so by keeping her eyes on the prize of Christ, refusing to let the hurdles that get in the way stop her. I hope and pray that she will press on towards the joy, the promise, the love, the mercy, the grace, and the hope that is Christ and that, with vision turned towards the light, she will find herself constantly and consistently drawn and guided towards her home in the heart of God.
She’s only 8 and part of me wants to warn her about it all. I think about my journey, the journey of everyone. I think about how hard life is and how big those hurdles can be. But I refuse that temptation. The temptation to plant a seed of fear. Because she doesn’t need fear and caution. She needs courage and to be encouraged. She needs armor and preparation and guidance and a soft place to land. She needs to see the goodness and the power of the Lord triumph over the traps of the enemy. She needs to see that this race can be run and that it is worth it to put in the effort it will require. She doesn’t need doubt. She needs faith. She needs to know she’s not alone and though she has her race that she must run, all the believers are running towards the same prize and we are all in this together. There is a great cloud of witnesses to lead us, to follow us, and to run with us. And there is a great Redeemer to give us every single thing we need to do this, including rest for the times us runners are weary of life and water to quench the thirst for life, the real and abundant life that we all pant for as we take this path.
And so, she begins this journey and I’m reminded of my own and I remember that I will join her for much of hers and I hate running, but I am glad to run this race.