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 that is set before us. – Romans 12:1
This verse follows the “Hall of faith” chapter that mentions so many giants of the faith. It mentions Abel, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David, Samuel, and other Judges and prophets. I think this verse is basically saying, “Because they did it, we can too.” This really got me to thinking this morning about all the people God has placed in my life that helped me become a follower of Jesus.
My first memory of anything to do with church, God, or the Bible came at Salem United Methodist Church. We memorized the books of the Bible in Sunday School. Being the overachiever that I was, I only memorized the first five, but for the first time in my life, I thought that the Bible must be an important book.
Steve James, a youth pastor, would be the first to tell me about heaven and hell. He told me that I needed Jesus to go to heaven. I was too scared to receive Him in front of my friends, so he came to me, picked me up, and led me to the Lord.
My friend, Scott McGaha, would purchase me my first Bible. Even though it took a few years, it is the first Bible I ever read cover to cover and is still the Bible that means the most to me.
A good ‘ole southern preacher by the name of Ronnie Hodge would be the first preacher to captivate me by telling Bible stories. For the first time in my life, I wanted to read the Bible and know what it said.
I will always be grateful for Rev. Don Vaughn and youth pastors Mike and Laura Worsham at Salem Baptist Church. They taught us, showed us, and put us in many situations where we learned what it looked like to serve God.
Later, a guy named Jimmy Boggs would sit down with me and teach me how to read the Bible and apply it to my life. He was the busiest guy on the planet, but he always took time for me.
I would go on to college and get far away from God. An invitation to an old school Church of God revival by Larry and Betty McGaha would be the catalyst that would fill me up with the Spirit of God and help me never look back.
My wife, Tonya, would be the one to show me what it looked like to put the past in the past and move forward. Mark Bagwell would invite us to Golden Corner Church where I learned the value of having a church family and being in a life group.
I hate when I start naming names. I know I miss people and leave them out. Of course, I don’t mean to. It would be easy to mention Shaun Watkins, Jeremy Garrett, Tony Grant, Jeff Rankin, and mention the parts that they either played, or are playing at this moment. I have been surrounded by my own “great cloud of witnesses.”
Right now, I just want to help others on their journey. People are all over the place . . . just like I’ve been. Maybe they need to hear about Jesus for the first time. Maybe they need to grow. Maybe they need to come back to Him. Who knows? God knows. If you truly know Him, what are you doing to help them? Take the time to look back over your own life . . . who was your village?
Lord, help me help people in the same manner that you have used others to help me. If I can preach at a park, play a song that honors You in a bar, counsel troubled teens, lead a Bible study, or simply pray with someone who needs You to move on their behalf, help me to do it. By the power of Your Spirit help me to truly live for You and be a vessel that is used to pour into the lives of others. You have sent so many people to pour into me . . . How can I not pour into others? I just want to do my part. I just want to follow You. I just want to hear the words, “Well done!” Place people in my path that I can help. Thank You for all that You do, have done, and will do.