The Saints are some of my heroes. I want to have the same kind of passionate love for God that I sense in them. Hebrews 12:1 says:
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.
When I read this verse, I think about those who lived centuries ago whose words and instructions for spiritual growth still resonate with me today. I’ve gotten to the place where it is hard for me to read modern spiritual writers. I value more highly the authors whose writings have survived the test of time and continue to be translated and reprinted in a modern age.
I encourage every Christian to read the Christian classics. Three to start with are St Augustine’s Confessions, Thomas A Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ and Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence. There are so many amazing women writers, but a great one to start with is Madame Guyon’s Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ. These amazing souls who set their life’s vocation to learning how to grow closer to God and share their secrets with the world through their writings are true spiritual treasures that we must not ignore. Their writings give witness to their journeys through this dark world, yearning for the God they sense calling them and urging them forward. We are cut off from what they are experiencing with God since they left this world, but we do have their human encounters and expert experiences through their writings to lead us deeper into the heart of God. God used them to show us how to apply the truths of the Word of God. I sense the writer of Hebrews pointing out the great cloud of witnesses as an encouragement to carry on. It’s a spiritual reality to recognize through those who have gone before us that sin does so easily entangle and hinder our personal path to God. Yet these witnesses found a way to have faith in the Word of God to carry on the journey and run toward Him with perseverance.
Hebrews 12:2-3 continues to expose the way of the Saints:
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Those whose lives exemplified Christ so much that they are considered worthy of imitating lived in this way because they learned how to fix their eyes on Jesus. Becoming a true saint is about faith. It is about joy beyond your circumstances. Saints in this world lay down shame at its source—sin. They received the righteousness of Jesus Christ that He purchased for us on the cross. They believe wholeheartedly that their own shame and the shame of sin they recognize in every person they meet are no match for faith in Jesus Christ.
November 1 is All Saints Day in the church; and Halloween may overwhelm this church holiday in our culture, but hopefully not in our hearts. When you think of Halloween, remember it is All Hallowed Eve before the day we celebrate what faith in Christ can do in the life of a sinful human being!
I hope you had a happy Halloween and a sacred All Hallowed Eve.