Many of the helpers who work for Hong Kong families spend their days worrying about whether someone is watching them. You see, many Hong Kong families have web cams installed so that working parents can check in on their children and check up on their helpers.
Does having a webcam in the home help you do a better job? I recently read an article about webcams describing one that had 2 way audio. The article said that if a parent saw their child misbehaving they could address it immediately "Johny, stop hitting your sister and do your homework!" Many of us imagine God to be this way, always watching us so he can ZAP us if we do something wrong.
Hebrews 12:1 in the Contemporary English Version says "Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us!"
Are we being watched? Maybe. The scripture calls them "witnesses". A witness is someone who sees or experiences something. They may be witnessing to us about the grace of God they have experienced OR they may be witnessing how God's grace plays out in our lives OR both. Who are these witnesses? The last 2 verses of chapter 11 identify them:
39All of them pleased God because of their faith! But still they died without being given what had been promised. 40This was because God had something better in store for us. And he did not want them to reach the goal of their faith without us.
They are the believers, the faithful who have gone before us. They are runners who have finished their race and they are waiting for you and me to finish ours. Last weekend was the Hong Kong Marathon. The runners who finished first were greeted with prizes and lots of media attention. Those who finished last were greeted by a few friends and the clean up crews picking up the garbage left by the spectators. That is not how it works in the race of faith. In the race of faith, nobody gets their prize until everyone has finished. In the race of faith, the other runners are not competing against you, but with you. We are like a cross country team, and the whole team has to cross the line before the prizes are given out. So they wait, and perhaps they watch, but if they watch - it is not with condemnation, but concern. They want us to run well. They want us to win. When we stumble their groans are the groans of the home team's fans. When we successfully jump a hurdle, their cheers are the cheers of teammates. They care about us, and want us to win.
Their watching is the watching of a big brother or sister who has experienced what we are facing and want us to do well, to do better than they did. God's watching is the watching of a parent as their child takes their first steps, rides their first bike, graduates from university. It is the watching of love, of hope, of faith.
Are we being watched? Yes, but those watching love us and want us to run well. How has your race been so far? My race has had some awful falls and stumbles, but I'm still running, and they are still waiting, hoping and cheering for me.