Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:1–2
There are certain moments in life that a person will never forget. The summer of 2008 was one of those times for me. This was the first time I was asked to be the camp pastor for Joni and Friends, a week-long retreat for disabled children and their families. I knew going in that it would be difficult emotionally, but I never anticipated the great heroes of faith that I would meet during the week.
I would like to narrow it down to just one person who really impressed me, but there was really no way to single out a particular worker. It wasn’t really about any single individual who was stubbornly determined to make God famous, it was about God’s fame. These workers paid almost $400 and used a week of vacation to come and care for people who struggle to care for themselves, while giving a respite to weary families and care givers.
On the morning before the campers arrived, I challenged these workers to run the race that God had marked out before them. I told them to read through Hebrews 11 and examine the Bible’s great heroes of the faith that now testify to God’s faithfulness (Hebrews 12:1). Jesus set the example by enduring the cross, so that we might now become a part of God’s story of redemption. We now run our race and will one day be asked to join the “great cloud of witnesses” who proclaim God’s faithfulness. It’s not a closed group.
None of us are called to do everything, but all of us are called to do something. On paper, working at a camp for the disabled may not sound like much, and perhaps it’s not as big as some of the stories you have heard, but it is part of their story, their race, their sacrifice, their joy, their testimony. What has God set before you? Are you stubbornly determined to run that race?
By the way, if something inside you leaped when you read this, and you would like to join this particular Joni and Friends “Hall of Fame” next year, then let me know early, and I will try to get you started on the journey.