Overcoming Darkness

A Great Crowd of Witnesses

Memories of worshiping with a great crowd of witnesses and friends in Spirit and in Truth give us confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not yet see. (Hebrews 11:1; 12:1-3).

My alma mater is Houghton College—a liberal arts college in the Christian traditions of John and Charles Wesley. On most days, we attended mandatory chapel in Wesley Chapel.

My memories of Houghton are filled with my memories of Wesley Chapel:

The foyer’s artistic rendering of the Word of God, depicting Bible stories from Genesis to Revelation.

The sanctuary’s gigantic pipe organ, leading us in hymns of praise.

I cherish memories of Wesley Chapel filled with people—many of them my friends. People being touched by the Word of God and praising God from whom all blessings flow.

In my Senior Year, I knew I would soon be saying good-bye to Wesley Chapel.

I drank in memories of Wesley Chapel to strengthen my faith no matter what the future might bring.

Memories to keep me confident in what I hoped for. Memories to give me assurance about what I did not yet see. (Hebrews 11:1).

At times in Chapel, as our voices swelled together with the organ, I gazed around the sanctuary, from the platform to the balcony. I knew I would want to draw upon these memories forever for confidence, hope and assurance.

These memories of Wesley Chapel come to mind whenever I hear the first few verses of the Twelfth Chapter of Hebrews.

The verses about being “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses”—heroes of the faith who persevered despite all pain, opposition and disappointments.

The verses about being inspired by these heroes of the faith to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”

The verses about running “with perseverance the race that is set before us.”

How? By “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

How? By fixing our eyes on the same joy for which Jesus endured the cross and endured all opposition.

How? By not growing weary and losing heart.

How? By drawing encouragement from memories of the great crowd of witnesses and friends who surrounded me in Wesley Chapel.

By drawing wisdom from the art in Wesley Chapel, witnessing to the Word of God.

By drawing inspiration from the music in Wesley Chapel, witnessing to the praise of God.

By drawing perseverance from the modern-day heroes of the faith who surrounded me in Wesley Chapel, witnessing to the faithfulness of God!


For related thoughts, please read my book Lighting the World, at pages 155-186, where I interpret the Book of Revelation using illustrations from the history of Houghton College and where I show how Houghton’s Class of ‘77 witnesses to the Way of Jesus by being Best Friends who worship together in Spirit and in Truth.