To those that have gone before me
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
I attended a Methodist church growing up. The service and holy-ghost antics were very dry compared to Baptist and Apostolic denominations. I really enjoyed going to my paternal grandmother's Baptist church because they spent a good hour singing, stomping, dancing, passing out, and screaming. It most certainly kept me awake during service.
On the flip side, during service at my maternal grandmother's Methodist church, she'd only shed a tear or two during her favorite songs. Every now and again you might get a subtle, almost forced, "Thank you Jesus!" at about a 4 octane.
I never understood why there were so many tears during praise and worship--the silent ones and the louder boo-hoos.
TA-DAY---I cry those same tears as I've become a praise-n-worship connoisseur. I don't belong to a church or denomination, but honeyyyy, I have church right here at home.
As my gospel music played last night (specifically, Tasha Cobb "Forever At Your Feet") the tears started rolling down my cheeks. They kept flowing. And I couldn't make them stop.
Every tear was a drop of gratitude. I was reflecting on how blessed I am to have a cloud of witnesses that have gone before me.
I am so very blessed. Even when I thought I wasn't. Even when I couldn't see the path. When I sit still long enough to see/hear/feel God's direction over my life, it is immensely overwhelming.
I thought of my cousin Shawn. The oldest of my grandmother's five grandchildren. The authority I went to when I found my mother's drug paraphernalia in my dresser drawer. The person who had to break the news, the honest truth, to me about her drug use. The person who comforted me when the police kicked in our door. The bestest friend to my brother. The only cousin I shared a room with and helped me collect crates to sit my boxspring and mattress on. He's also the big cousin I grabbed when I nearly burned down the kitchen. He took the whooping with me like a G. I am so thankful for those who have gone before me.
I thought of my cousin Kenny, a true man of God. A faithful servant. A man who dedicated his life to serving the Lord. A man who saved himself until marriage. A kind and gentle man. In his car, he prayed and told me that if I accept God as my Lord and Savior and repent for my sins, I can be saved. He saved me right in his car. I must've been ten years old. I learned so much about manhood from my cousin. I am so thankful for the cousins who have gone before me.
I thought of my late uncle Maurice. Reese, as we called him, was a true gentle giant. He provided much comic relief for the entire family. Reese's room was like a sanctuary; the coolest hangout spot at 1924 W. Baltimore St. He had every movie, cool model cars, all the game systems along with the newest games, and all his walls were covered with pictures of pin-up models. He was who he was. In all things. He taught me authenticity, to laugh about it all, and to take care of my parents. His loyalty is unfathomed this day in age. He was the Chadwick Boseman of the family--secretly battling for his life while smiling and taking care of others. I am so thankful for my uncle that has gone before me.
We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn Hebrews 12:1-2
I pay homage for their lives demonstrate a wonderful testimony and great encouragement for me.
Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1 says, “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us . . . run.” Those tears of gratitude flowed for the people of faith who have ran before me in the race. Reflecting on those who have gone before me helps me to discard every encumbrance that hinders my progress. Their lives give me perseverance. I'm so thankful!
I pray to be in the cloud of witnesses helping others run. The most important race of all is the race of life. Some people go to the Olympics knowing they will not win. They rightly consider it an honor just to compete there. They do not feel too bad when they do not win a medal because they never really expected to. That may be fine for the Olympics, but not for life! It is not enough just to compete! Who are the real winners in life? What constitutes a victory? "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (MATTHEW 16:26).
Look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes. Ask: Does it help me run the race?
Thank you Shawn, Kenny and Reese for helping me, encouraging me, teaching me, laughing with me, forgiving me, consoling me and praying for me in this race.