"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Looking unto Jesus..."
In the darkness of yesterday morning as my sweet, snugly, baby girl sat sleeping in her car seat I turned on the radio in an attempt to keep myself awake as we made the drive to the hospital a little over an hour away. As the man on the radio read this scripture it came alive to me like it never has before. I mean I've heard this particular verse several times in my life, but yesterday something was so very different. Maybe it was from being so sleepy or maybe it was something given to me from the Father yesterday? I really don't know, but either way I have been so encouraged by what I "saw" on that drive.
I began to picture a great crowd. A crowd of "witnesses" maybe? A crowd who was surrounding me, but yet still a great ways from me. Perhaps a cloud of witnesses of those who run this race before me? The best way I can think of to describe what I "saw" is to share with you an image of me running. I was a runner in high school. Sprinter and hurdler mainly, but in the off season I participated in cross country to stay in shape. It was at one of these meets that I would like you to picture me. If you've never been to a cross country meet then let me share with you that it is very different than a track meet. A track meet takes place around a large oval track. All racers in every event run along the very same, very smooth lanes around that track. In cross country this is not the case. The course is what we run. It is never smooth, never the same, never oval in shape. We set out on a rather long course. All beginning at the starting line and running as hard as we can to set our place in the race. Once you have fallen in to your place you begin to set your pace. The course goes over hills, across creeks, around rocks, and seems to go on forever. The best part about these races or at least the parts I remember the most from my experience is the "cloud of witnesses" that spaces themselves along the course. The "witnesses" encourage you as you run past, some of them waiting until you have passed them and then making their way down toward the finish line to be there to cheer you on as you cross it, but others making their way to several spots along the entire course to be there to encourage you as pass that mark, then the next, then the next. They in essence are running the race with you.
Yesterday morning this is what I pictured on my drive. Those witnesses who have run this race before. The one I feel that I am running. Those who have been here, done all of this, and made it to the end. They were there surrounding me, encouraging me, and cheering me on. Oh, what peace I felt as the smile crept across my face. I am not alone. There are those who have survived the transplant journey, who have raised their chronically ill children, who have made it to the finish line and they were there encouraging me. Just knowing that they had survived and picturing them cheering for us, for Ash, for Dave and I. What a blessing that early morning drive and those words of scripture were to me.
I'm sure I've taken this scripture out of context in some form or another, but its days like yesterday when the words of God become so vividly real to me that I feel they were written just for me in that moment. I've thought of them all day long. I've been encouraged by them. Picturing a course with witnesses, experienced runners, those who have done this, placed along my path just to lift me up when I feel as though my feet can not bare to carry me one more step. It is times like this that keep me focused on our goal. Not only to raise our sweet Ashley Kate, but also to do it in a way that ministers to our children, to our family, and to our friends in a way that will please the Father. If I were to be honest with you, and you know that is always my goal while journaling her story, I would share with you that there are days(a lot of them lately) when my eyes have lost focus of this goal. When I have been so discouraged and so exhausted with her being sick for so long that I didn't care how I made it to the end of the day. All that mattered was making it. There have been so many nights lately where Dave or I one will say at the end of the day how "tired we are of Ash being sick". We have said aloud how much it hurts to watch her struggle with all that she does and we have said some of those things in front of Blake and Allie. Never intending to take away from the blessings and the miracles God has given and has done in her life. Just allowing the weariness of our souls to spill out when we should have guarded them more closely.
In the end of this journey, wherever it may lead us, my goal is for my children to know the power of God, to have witnessed His loving kindness, and to show them how precious, how very precious the baby sister they love so very much is to the One who created her and placed her in our family.
That "cloud of witnesses" has brought me back to that place and today I'm very grateful for that early morning drive with my tiny girl, and even more grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to bring her back home with me and show Blake and Allie how good God is.