Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms"1 (Lyrics)

Today, I'm thinking about two humongous clouds, both hovering over us. One cloud is a tiny virus engulfing the world in its ominous shadow. We've all paid plenty of attention to that cloud. But how much attention have we paid to the other cloud? It's the cloud that constantly surrounds God's children. Unlike the cloud of dread and chaos inflicted by the virus, this cloud brings hope and purpose. The book of Hebrews mentions it:

Hebrews 12:1 – … we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses … (NIV)

Hebrews chapter 11 portrays this "great cloud" as a composite of past heroes of faith. You may wonder how we benefit by dwelling on the past. I say, it's not merely about the past. It's about our present and our future. Let's read on:

Hebrews 12:1-2a – 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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (NIV)

That's breath-taking! At this very moment, an enormous cloud of witnesses surrounds us, inspiring us to press on with unwavering endurance and faith. The cloud includes not only the faithful of old, like Noah, Moses, Abraham, and nameless martyrs from biblical times, but also people since then who have joined the great cloud. That's an enormous cloud!

Sadly, culture tends to sever us from our past. Modern church may bypass the great cloud. Yet, by losing connection with the past, we lose connection with our future. We're then more easily sidetracked by a myriad of lesser clouds arising over the horizon. We'll sink just as surely as Peter sank while staring at his threatening cloud. We'll get entangled in murky clouds of unbelief, beset with fears, meaninglessness, loneliness, etc.

Like Peter, we must learn to "fix our eyes on Jesus". We must also pay more careful attention to voices from the past, as Hebrews warns us. Here I'll share advice which, I'd say, comes more recently from the great cloud. This quotation seems especially suited for those experiencing isolation:

    Every day is important for us because it is a day ordained by God. If we are bored with life there is something wrong with our concept of God and His involvement in our daily lives. – Jerry Bridges, 1929-2016

These words remind us that each day is God's project, and God's purposes comprise a much bigger dimension than our living quarters, circumstances, or even local churches. Remember, whether or not we are confined to lonely places, through Christ, we become united with an enormous family, a heavenly kingdom, or as pictured in Hebrews, a great cloud of witnesses.

In conclusion, two clouds surround us. One persistently hovers in our face these days. The other requires the Spirit's enlightenment and guidance. And that's why we can each pray:

Prayer: Lord, today, strengthen my faith by directing me to timely words from the great cloud of witnesses. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, Diane.

    Thank you, a message I needed to hear today.

    So true and timely, thanks and blessings, Diane!

    Thank you, Diane for such an inspirational devotion today.

    Thanks for sharing!

    May every cloud you see bring new meaning!

    Thank you, Diane, for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

    Thanks, Diane. I love to look at cloud formations. This will bring a new meaning to doing that.

    Thank you for your email devotional. I believe I really love clouds now!! A great cloud of witnesses.


    Greetings Diane,
    Thanks for writing this devotional showing a great comparison of the two clouds. We must be ever grateful for the cloud of our Lord ever enfolding us.
    Blessings for this thoughtful and inspiring writing.

    Just what I needed for today, Diane! I can list how many faces I know who are in my personal cloud of witnesses, those faithful from my past and present, those from history and from the Bible who kept their eyes on Him. So happy to be of that number today and to bring others with me to share in the joy!

    There was a member of the Presbyterian Church who took the concept of a cloud of witnesses very seriously because he had a special gift. Every Communion he could see people in old fashioned dress, behind the Communion table. He believed they were part of the cloud of witnesses, sharing the Sacrament with us. What a lovely thought.

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