There’s this comment in the Book of Hebrews about a “cloud of witnesses” that have gone before us. People like Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David and the like. The people who, in spite of all their failings and insecurities and worst moments in life, managed to live in a way that honored the Creator. It’s like they are watching us to see whether or not we’ll follow in their steps.
This, I think, is the basis for the idea we have of our ancestors looking down on us from the clouds. And it’s scary, to be honest.
“What would your Grandpa think if he could see you now, young man?”
I always wondered if someone was watching. Did they see me playing chase in the grave yard when we knocked over a tomb stone? We didn’t mean to. But it scared the living daylights out of us. A stumble, a thud, and there she went. A piece of granite that weighed like a tank. How could an 85 lb. boy put a 400 lb. marker on the ground? But there it was. Mr. Smith was face down.
The preacher announced in services on Sunday: “We’ve had vandals in the cemetery. An awful tragedy!” Steve and I buried our heads behind the pew, trying not to be obvious in our guilt. Especially since his Dad was the preacher.
But the idea that someone is watching is true, I think. When I was coming up, I was pretty sure that most of Berea Christian Church was watching. Miss Betty Gibbs is still a faithful member and was my first grade teacher. I guarantee you she was watching. Fears Nutt, a neighbor, farmer, and Sunday School teacher of junior age boys. You can bet he was watching.
Mr. Bill Pendley sang in the choir. He was admired by all the men because of his skills with a paint brush. The men were painting the sanctuary and they let the boys help.
“Pull your brush all the way across,” he said. “No short strokes. You can’t paint if you don’t have paint on your brush.”
Good advice. I’ve never painted a room since that I didn’t have the feeling that Mr. Bill was watching me.
Among other things, the Church is a valuable repository of men and women of faith, and character, and longevity that watch over us. None of them were perfect. Flaws small and big are everywhere. But, they are witnesses among us to the journey behind and ahead. They hold me accountable. They make me want to be a better husband. A better person. A better participant in the things that matter in this life.
So, when I look up at the clouds I think about the hundreds of faces that are looking back. They’re checking in on me. Though I’m a little creeped out by the whole idea, I’m honored that they care. Accountability is a necessary burden dressed in the garments of grace. None of us are independent of those who have gone before us. And, we are stronger for it.
I didn’t know Moses, but evidently he’s watching. So is Mr. Vic. He was my preacher back in the day. If you’re watching,
“Sorry about the tombstone. That was me. I’m trying to do better.”