My Mother passed down some wonderful values to me, and also whatever musical talent I possess I owe to my Mom. Even though Dad was the preacher, it was Mom who spent most days and evenings reading from the Bible and praying with me. I owe her a debt of gratitude that I’ll never to be able to repay.
My Mom also passed on some other things. Specifically, she passed on some genetic predispositions that affect my health care and life challenges. Mom had uncontrolled high blood pressure. By the time she was in her fifties, she was on eight blood pressure medications, and still got poor control. Trips to Mayo Clinic, Vanderbilt, and other research centers resulted in nothing significantly changing for her. Somehow by the grace of God, Mom lived to be 81 years of age, and continued to be mobile and active in her later years. I inherited Mom’s blood pressure issues, but so far, three medications are controlling mine. I also inherited some bad genetics on teeth. By the time she was in her 30’s, Mom had lost all her lower teeth. With advances in dentistry, I have been able to keep a few of my lower teeth, but they are slowly going away. I’m still hurting from an extraction performed on Wednesday. At the end of the day, however, there’s a lot more reasons to thank Mom than to blame Mom.
As I waited my turn to have my tooth extracted, a man in the treatment room next door was screaming in pain as the dentist did his work. It caused me to pause and pray for him, and as I prayed for him, I was reminded of how Mom lost her teeth back in the days when the dentists simply didn’t have the anesthetics to work with that they have now. “Mom survived this under worse circumstances,” I thought. And so will I. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t yell and scream. Mom would not have approved!
Today’s scripture passage tells us that “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” As we run our race, people in the stands are cheering for us. Those people could include parents, grandparents, dear friends, teachers, and mentors. People who have finished their race are watching you as you run your leg of the journey. They pray for you when you’re getting tired, and they cheer you on when you reach a significant milestone. If you listen closely, you just might hear them cheering you on. People whose names you may not know pray for you while you take your laps around life’s obstacle course.
We’ll talk about this in worship today. What we do here matters.