We are not running our race on a new path. We run on a beaten path. worn by the feet of the faithful who have run well before us. They’ve ended the race well and have received their reward, a welcome from the Lord Jesus.
As a Protestant, it is very easy to minimize the role of those who have gone before me. I don’t ask for their intercession as our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters do. I am more likely to study American history than I am to read the stories of those faithful to the Lord. I rarely celebrate their lives.
But as All Saints’ Day approaches, I’m reminded that they are important to my walk today.
They are important because my faith is not my own. My faith has been passed down for two thousand years. The departed saints guarded the scriptures, wrestled with forming a church in the midst of persecution, and determined how to celebrate the beauty of what God has done for His people. Throughout the generations, they have been faithful in passing down what the Lord entrusted to them.
People have withstood persecution, torture, and even death that I might be able to know the goodness of Christ. Their example should matter to me.
We realize that Scripture cannot give us an example of every scenario. Often, we are given generalities that, through the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit, we try to apply to our struggles. But as I look through the history of our Church, I see a multitude of examples of living out the Gospel in the midst of a sin-filled world. I look at St. Monica and see the encouragement of a devout woman married to an unbeliever. I look at St. Teresa of Avila and see brutal honesty with God in frustrations. And I look to St. Damien and see what it means to love like Christ in laying down your life for another.
We have a rich history that God has blessed us with. Much like a family history, it tells us where we as His people came from and gives us an idea of where God is leading us. It is our privilege to study their lives and see God’s faithfulness to them and to us through their example. To neglect this would be to ignore what God has done for His people.
Because ultimately, the lives of the saints point us to Christ. They honored God with their lives and, even in death, continue to honor Him by pointing us to Him again and again.
And now, they are at His side, petitioning for us and witnessing our race. Just as we look to them and see God’s faithfulness, now they look to us to witness His works.
With the eyes of the saints upon us, Jesus shows His faithfulness again and again. We see it in hindsight, they see it in real time. They watch with anticipation as we run the race that Christ has set before us. We have the privilege of living as they did and pointing others to Christ. They now have the privilege of watching it unfold.
I’m grateful for the saints who have gone before. I’m blessed and encouraged by their faithfulness. It inspires me to keep running. It reminds me of the privilege of passing down the faith I have been entrusted with. As I look at All Saints’ Day, I see the faithfulness of Christ to His Church and I am reminded that, just as He never abandoned them but stood by their side until their race was won, so I too am aided.
So may we all, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox, look at the rich history that God has given us. May we never neglect to praise Him for the lives of those He has equipped to live as a living sacrifice, offering up their lives in service of the King of Kings.