I recently learned that my friend, Donna, joined the great cloud of witnesses, who cheer for us. She promised to tell Joel funny stories from when we were little when she got there. Her friendship was such a gift.
Three precious women, who have prayed for and often encouraged me, have joined that cloud of witnesses in the last nine months. Their prayers and witness continue to encourage me now. I was praying this morning for their families and others who are grieving and leaning into these verses:
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God…
34 Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God—and He is interceding for us.
I lean hard because I am weak and often don’t know how I ought to pray, but long to join Jesus and Holy Spirit in their intercession for us even when only groans too deep for words can suffice.
Jesus, consumed with zeal for His house, drove money changers out of the temple and declared:
“My house will be called a house of prayer.” (John 2, Matthew 21)
I imagine that He is consumed with that same zeal for His heavenly house and that intercession is a central part of what goes on in Heaven. Holy Spirit is interceding, Jesus, the Central Focus of Heaven, is interceding and is zealous that His house be called a house of prayer.
Our loved ones in Heaven have seen Jesus. They have seen His face, His great heart of love, His longing, His zeal, and have become like Him. I imagine that they are consumed with His zeal and His longing. I imagine that they have joined Jesus and Holy Spirit in interceding for us, asking that we would be strengthened in our faith, that we would know the width, length, height and depth of His love, be encouraged by their witness and His faithful promises to us.
In Luke 15:10, Jesus tells us,
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
“There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels.”
Who is in the presence of the angels rejoicing?
In this chapter, Jesus tells us stories of a shepherd searching for a lost lamb, a woman scouring for a lost silver coin and a father running toward his returning prodigal son.
He is telling us how valuable we are in God’s eyes. He wants us to know how our Good Shepherd searches for us and how our Father in Heaven watches, waits and longs for our repentance. He is showing us how when we turn towards home, He runs towards us with hugs and kisses, joyfully puts us on His shoulders and calls His friends, neighbors, servants and sons together and says, “Rejoice with me!”
22b “‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
“…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels.”
Knowing God longs for and rejoices with heavenly intercessors and witnesses over my repentance makes me want to run hard and well toward Home with my eyes fixed on Jesus for the joy set before me:
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I am so thankful that God so loved me that sent His Son, Jesus, to seek and save me. I am so thankful for the opportunity and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. I am so thankful for the prayers and witnesses of Jesus, Holy Spirit, friends and family, and of saints around the world and in Heaven. I am so thankful for our firm and secure Anchor of Hope and the encouragement to run. I am so thankful that the Spirit Himself intercedes for us when we don’t know how we ought to pray with groans too deep for words… according to the will of God.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Love and groans,