As a child I devoured books. I always had one balanced on the edge of the dining table so that I could pick it up again as soon as I was excused from the table. And my mom placed a basket by my bed to collect the books that fell out of my hand at night as I fell asleep reading. My mind was always filled with heroes—or more specifically, and in somewhat antiquated terms, heroines.
In that basket by my bed you would have found novels featuring Anne of Green Gables and Lousia May Alcott’s Little Women stacked with biographies of Joan of Arc and Corrie Ten Boom. I adored each of them and imagined what kind of heroine I might become someday.
They were all just characters in books to me then and yet today I reckon with the compelling truth that though I will never meet the fictional Anne Shirley, I am eternally connected to my historical heroines Joan of Arc and Corrie Ten Boom through the communion of the saints. I will meet them along with other saints who have made an impression on my life like Catherine of Siena, Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus, Hildegard of Bingen, John Wesley, and C.S. Lewis. Some day, at the resurrection when the dead are raised and the earth is restored, I will see them along with all the apostles and prophets from the Bible. This amazing who’s who of 2000 years of Christianity is too much for me to imagine. Who do you talk to first???
And yet I am most taken with the idea that I will meet lesser known saints, like the generations of my own family that have gone before me. Great, great grandparents, whom I never met, that followed Jesus faithfully and raised large families on the plains of Oklahoma and Texas and set the direction of my life before I was born will be numbered among the saints. I sit and eat with nameless pastors and laypeople from every nation and generation who persevered in the faith through incredible hardship and are now with Jesus for all eternity. We all meet our whole Church family, our brothers and sisters in Christ from every time and place when Jesus restores his Kingdom.
None of us comes to faith in Jesus on our own. We need the witness of the generations who have gone before us to show us the way. We need the testimony of their lives to teach us what faithfulness and holiness looks like in every generation. This Sunday is All Saints’ Day when we celebrate our incredible heritage of faith, remembering the men and women who humbled themselves and let Jesus be glorified in their lives. I encourage you to take a little time to remember the saints who have inspired you to follow Jesus and let their stories continue to shape your story.
Hebrews 12: 1 -Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…