My ear is straining to hear the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) today.........those who have gone on before us who have found their place in the grandstands of eternity. I see some familiar faces there, their eyes fixed on me at the moment, imploring me with all their might to fix my eyes on Jesus. Listening close now, I hear what seems like whispers, the distance drowns the volume, but I can see by the look in their eyes that they are giving it all they've got to cheer me on!
"Don't look back!" a voice cries out! I am not certain which of my fans has spoken but his words are wise.
"Make haste!" says another.
"Lighten your load and quicken your pace!" another pipes in.
As I force to look more intently I see a special section. It has been walled off. There are a few empty seats there among many that are filled. They have names engraved on them. My name is not there. Not yet anyway.
This is a marked off, specially reserved section. There is a sign above it "Endured to the end!" Jeremiah is there and near him Isaiah. John the Baptist?!!!! Yes! It has to be! And Stephen (I really want to talk to him!) And there! Look! Can you see him? It is Jim Elliot.
I wasn't expecting this vision of glory today. I didn't even ask for it, but having this divine revelation has stirred me with a new passion........to run!
I see a family now. I remember their story. A family of five who were buried alive because they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus. Several others have joined them. Witnesses...... those who saw the demonstration of their faith as they sang hymns of praise to the living God until their last breath was stolen from them.........Their faith was contagious and many were added to the Kingdom that day. Some of those who witnessed their last day are now seated with them in this special section. They experienced similar sufferings..........and they are seated with them.
"He will give you grace! Persevere! Sing! He is worthy of all praise! Remain faithful to the end! It is worth it!" they are determined for all to hear.
Persecution is hard, so I am told. I have read Voice of the Martyrs, Foxes Book of Martyrs, and Jesus Freaks. I do not fear it, because I have not experienced it........not really! Small levels perhaps, but do they really count?
Times of persecution will bring...........
Grace, grace, grace.......... we will be baptized in it!
And blessings!!!! Promised blessings! Jesus said:
"Blessed......happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous [that is, with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions].......are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.
Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (strong and intense), for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you."
So if you are among the persecuted, there is a reward awaiting you in a special section of heaven. Your seat is prepared for you! Your fans are waiting for you! Press on!