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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

More Important Than Tiramisu

Isn’t it interesting how something triggers our memory?

Most mornings, I begin my day with a cup of coffee and a time to read. The mornings in Phoenix are pleasant. Even in the summer months, at 5:30 in the morning, it’s nice to be on the patio to begin my day.

Here’s what I read this morning:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”[1]

These words from the author of Hebrews took me back to when I was a young boy. My memory caused me to laugh.

The first time I can recall hearing these words was from my father, who was preaching from this passage of Scripture. How these words spoke to me then, compared to now, is radically different.

As a child, I was distraught — at the thought of being surrounded by a cloud of un-invited observers (cloud of witnesses)!

I chuckle out loud as I remember how I would find myself imagining all these people looking down from the sky; watching every move I made.

Being especially shy as a child, I remember for weeks after my Dad preached the message about the “cloud of witnesses,” how I would dress in the dark, trusting that without any light, these strangers wouldn’t be able to see me.

I know… that’s weird!

What I understand now compared to when I was a young boy is: Without proper context, our imaginations visualize what we want, and often what we envision is not accurate.

The Greco-Macedonian empire at that time was fond of foot racing. Large stadiums provided the perfect venue for the enthusiastic crowd to watch and cheer for their athletes.

Contrary to my childhood thinking that saw this “cloud of witnesses” as observing my every action to criticize me, I failed to see them as cheering supporters (I didn’t have to dress in the dark!).

This passage reminds us: There are others (who have gone before us) who are cheering us on, as we compete for the prize.

Several years ago I had dinner with a man who played for the Seattle Seahawks. I suggested we have some dessert. “I can’t do dessert,” he said. “This is the off-season for you,” I responded. He thanked me for the offer then reminded me: “Even though it’s off-season, I’m constantly in training.” He continued…

…“Each year the rookies are getting faster than me. If I’m going to reach my goal to have three more years in the NFL before I retire, I can’t allow the temptation of tiramisu to distract me.”

That’s what the author of Hebrews wants us to remember.

As an athlete competing for the prize, we remain focused upon the goal. We must be aware of those things that hinder us and of our sins that keep us from persevering.

When temptation diverts our eyes, it’s essential we re-align our focus, remembering we have a cheering section as we keep our goal in sight.

I’m thankful I no longer have to dress in the dark. I’m indebted for others who cheer me on. I’m also grateful that my eye is on the prize, and that today I can be aware of all that hinders me, the sins that so easily distract me, and the invitation to “consider Jesus.”

Cheering you on as you run the race!


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Heb 12:1–2.

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