This past year I met Lindsey Pond who serves with Linda Lesniewski, Women’s Minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas…the church I left to begin ministry at LifeWay in 1994! Lindsey is a dynamic leader of the young women at Green Acres. Her post below will encourage you to continue to run the race in God’s power!
“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, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
About 3 years ago, I attended my 10th Race for the Cure in my town. For the previous 9 years, I had participated in the race in honor of my grandmother and stepmother. But, in 2009, I participated in celebration of my own victory over breast cancer. As I think about this verse and a cloud of witnesses going before me, I think about that day. I walked the path, wearing my bright pink “Survivor” shirt, and a bright pink scarf tied on my head to conceal my baldness. But, the moment with the most impact occurred as I stepped across the finish line. On each side, I saw dozens of pink-shirted Survivors, who had hair and energy and eyelashes, and each one was shouting, “You can do it, Lindsey! Way to go! You’ll beat this!” Those women motivated me and reminded me that I wasn’t alone in fighting a terrible disease. They had fought before me, and won! And, I could, too.
I thought about that day when I was feeling a little overwhelmed in my role as a women’s ministry leader. Maybe you’ve been overwhelmed by the needs in your church, too. Sometimes, I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I wonder, “How in the world can I meet these needs? This seems impossible!”
That’s the point the Bible is making in this “cloud of witnesses” reference. We have a model of thousands who have gone before us in faith to show us the way. We aren’t alone.
As the Christian stands at the starting line of the race of life, the Bible doesn’t say “Run” but, “Let US run.” Clearly, the race was intended to be one of comradeship. We don’t like to feel alone, and God never intends for us to be isolated.
The cloud of witnesses shows us what to do. They are examples of how to live faith-filled lives in the midst of great difficulty and enormous need. They’ve provided a pattern for us to follow, that we might, in turn, live with a focus on faith.
When we feel overwhelmed by ministry and uncertain of what to do next, we can seek the counsel of those who went before us and those who are walking beside us. Surely, women have been meeting the needs of other women since the days of Eve, and they’ll continue to do so. So the motivation is this: Your experiences in ministering to women count to God, to those who are witnessing them, and to those who will hear your story long after you’re gone.
Today, dear ones, I want us to take courage, because so many other faithful racers have gone before us. You can be a witness to those who will come beside you and behind you. You can walk by faith on the path that the Lord has laid out for you. You can overcome that overwhelming feeling of “What have I gotten myself into?” Hundreds and thousands of women have gone before you, and by faith, they’ve overcome. Others have walked through what you’re walking through, and they made it. And… so will you.
May God motivate you to press on!
Lindsey Pond serves on staff at Green Acres Baptist Church, Tyler, Texas as the leader to young adult women. She is a frequent speaker at women’s events and retreats. Lindsey has a background in public education and educator training. She is married to her best friend, Brian, and they have 3 darling dog children.