As a child, Timothy learned more than rote words of scripture. The words came to life as he heard the stories of how those words sustained his grandmother, Lois, during the stormy moments in her life. The prayers of his mother, Eunice, covered him. He heard those words sung with praise for God’s blessings and prayed with human tears. Timothy personally experiences what Hebrews 12:1 calls a “cloud of witnesses,” as persons of influence in his life spoke into his heart the words of God that nurture believers in all circumstances of life.
Paul joins Timothy’s “cloud of witnesses.” He becomes yet another of Timothy’s teachers and continues to nurture those seeds and words of faith sown early in Timothy’s life. He reminds Timothy that the witnesses and teachers in our lives are God-given blessings and resources; they serve as mentors and spiritual trail guides. The retelling of the biblical narrative and the vulnerable sharing of personal faith journeys provide sacred teaching moments and expressions of love and faith. These are not simply shared and passed on like dusty keepsakes kept on a shelf. Retelling and sharing faith stories plant seeds that can teach and grow into something personal and soul-sustaining.
Ever the teaching preacher, Paul entreats Timothy to honor the courageous faith of his teachers, to let the words he knows in his head become the words of his heart that buoy up faith. Paul reminds Timothy that God inspires each word of scripture. These words aren’t dry words on a page; these words speak into our lives. They become our mirrors, our words of challenge and comfort. They become our goal and our inspiration. The words teach and sustain us wherever our journeys take us.

Thank you, God, for our faith mentors, teachers, and cloud of witnesses. Lead us to be the same for those whose faith journey follows ours. Amen.

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