Holding Out for a Hero is back on my playlist. This election season gets me belting it out with Bonnie Tyler. Where have all the good men gone? Isn’t there a white knight on a fiery steed?
Trump & Biden: Not My Heroes
Admittedly, this might feel like a bait and switch. Because you thought I’d back a candidate here and now. In fact, I did vote today. And if you’re still on the fence, here’s a voter guide.
But I’ll tell you the end at the beginning: my hope and my joy are not in a President. Why? Because the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our King. He will save us (Isaiah 33:22).
That’s the main reason I’m not holding out for an earthly hero. But there’s another reason: I’m already blessed by heroes I know.
Heroes Among Us
And for the record, my heroes do need to be strong— and humble and joyful and meek. Even if public heroes are in short supply, they are out there. They share common traits. May I describe them to you?
You can recognize them both by what they do and what they don’t do.
Heroes Don’t Write Their Own Stories
Your eyes saw my unformed body; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were not one of them. Psalm 139:16
Heroes don’t write their own scripts. They don’t star in their stories. But with courage and grace, they play parts in stories they didn’t write. And they don’t begrudge the author.
My heroes are the ones who are not living their dreams. They are not the ones who pushed to the top and live they life they’ve always dreamed. It’s comfortable to live the dream. But it doesn’t make a hero to me.
Heroes are the ones who play their assigned part even when it is so hard. My heroes are Julia and Barb, Shari and Kate—but not Bill.
My heroes are the ones who go with good cheer to places they never planned. They have touched the bottom of the deep and can assure me, It is sound. These are my heroes. Not the ones who swimmingly make their way.
Real heroes embrace their place in Someone Else’s story. Often it’s a waiting stage. Like the string of Bible heroes from Noah’s ark stage to Moses’ wilderness stage and Daniel’s Babylon stage and Esther’s Persian stage. Not one of those heroes picked his stage. Sometimes it’s a moving stage. Moses speaks for them when he asks God, “Who am I that I should go?” (Ex. 3:11).
But real heroes stay or go depending on what’s written in the book, in the script. Real heroes play their parts.
Before his fall from grace, I remember Bill Cosby saying of his- to date, storybook- life- It’s as if I’ve written the script myself. Hold out past the ones who live their dreams and follow the script they wrote.
But search high and low for heroes who embrace parts they didn’t write on stages they didn’t select.
Barb is 60-something, a friend of our family’s from way back. We reconnected at Grandma’s funeral. Barb’s got way more pep and way less gray than this 45 year-old has got. Not for a second does she seem senior.
But when Barb’s husband suffered a brain injury a few years ago, they sold their home and moved to Oak Park Place Senior Living. She explained, He needs some extra help plus he loves to visit with all the neighbors. He’s so social. Barb blesses the 90 year-olds that are now her neighbors. She shares Jesus’ love and calls them friends.
She doesn’t begrudge this change in setting in the story she did not write. For that, Barb is my hero.
*Note: Since writing the original post four years ago, Barb’s husband went home to be with Jesus. Like Job, Barb worshiped.
She’s a whiz with words and super-savvy with people and works for a Fortune 500 company. Julia always dreamed of being a wife and mother. Julia never married, never bore children. She wouldn’t have written her script that way. But she says it’s okay.
Aunt Julia is the most generous, most nurturing aunt her nephews could ever have. Two live with Aunt Julia half the week. She takes them to church and shows them Jesus better than their mom and dad have. And her nurturing love overflows way beyond those two nephews.
*Note: After 20+ years at that Fortune 500 company, Julia was laid off in February of 2020. She begins a new lower-paying job next week, and says, “Now I trust God (not money) to open up ways for me to live on this salary.”
Julia didn’t select single status or job loss as a character in this story. But she has trusts God still. For that, Julia’s my hero.
Kate’s in her thirties. Kate’s calm, patient presence speaks volumes of the Refuge she’s got. You see, before Kate turned thirty, her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. Treatments and seizures and surgeries left John disabled, and Kate with the lion’s share of raising four kids under eight.
But Kate’s strengthened by his glorious power for all endurance and patience with joy. She’s got a heavy load, helping care for four kids and a husband with fragile health.
*Note: In the four years since I wrote this, John has been in and out of hospitals and other heartache has come Kate’s way. But last week Kate said, “I wouldn’t have chosen this. But the intimacy I have with John and God, well—I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Kate didn’t pick the twist in their love story when she married John 20 years ago, but she embraces the story, her husband and God. For that, Kate’s my hero.
Shari was pillar in our church. She was the Christian education director who wrote curriculum that was a smashing success year after year for a decade. Shari wrote plays and painted sets and designed stunning graphics and fun games to draw others to Jesus. Thousands were nourished with the fruit of Shari’s lips and scripts and pens.
Then, Shari’s story took a turn. Things at the church changed and Shari’s husband lost his job. Now Shari sells insurance. Who’d have thought? she said the other day. She’s still awaiting His timing for her writing.
*Note: Shari was diagnosed with a serious cancer last summer. Because it was so rare, treatment decisions were excruciating. But Shari trusted God through. She’s the one who said, you can’t ride two horses with one heinie. Anxiety and gratitude can’t coexist.
Shari didn’t write the job change or the cancer into her story. But with incredible grace she plays this part. For that, Shari is my hero.
Maybe as you read about some of these heroes you were wishing you had more courage, or strength or greater faith to believe the story you find yourself in will actually turn out okay.
Please take heart. Every single thread in God’s story will come together. In His hands, nothing is wasted. Every line in the script is crafted with the glorious end in mind. Blogger Jean Williams is one of my heroes who’s felt the bottom and knows that it is sound.
Heroes Do Get Caught Up in a Bigger Story
Jean’s blog breathes strength and courage. She too has felt the bottom and calls back to us on shore, Fear not, it is sound.
God is a far better author than I could ever be. I wouldn’t have written so much hardship into the recent pages of our life. But as I look back, the suffering has…helped me see just how weak I am, and driven me to rely on God’s strength.
Better than that, this author hasn’t stayed outside the story, an omniscient, removed narrator; he has become a character on its pages…For in the end, this isn’t my story at all. Not only am I not the author of my story, I’m not the hero either. My part in this narrative serves to do one thing: highlight and direct attention to Jesus. He is the hero of this story, not me.
So forget me being the author of my story. The real Author is far more skilled than I am. Forget me being the hero of my story. Jesus is front and centre on all its pages. Forget this being my story. It’s God’s story, and it’s moving towards the glory of his Son. We’re all caught up in a bigger story, you and I, and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Heroes forget about being heroes. And that’s exactly the way it should be. Because they don’t want to be front and center, eclipsing God’s glory, starring in their own little dream stories.
Oh, no—real heroes want a larger than life, overcoming hero front and center.
Holding Out for a (larger than life) Hero
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have troubles, but take courage; I have overcome the world. –Jesus, in John 16:33
A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said decades ago.
Courage is declining in 2020, I think. Fear of Covid, fear of the future, and fear of losing control of our stories chokes some of us. Opening our hands to release the scripts we wrote and embracing roles we didn’t seek is scary. It takes faith and courage.
We need more courage. That’s why we need more heroes. Because real heroes- overcoming, faithful heroes- bring it. If their names are not on our ballots, they are still among us- real world heroes like Kate and Barb and Julia and Shari. Let’s not forget the heroes bursting forth in God’s Word. Read about Abram and Deborah, Moses and Joseph, Esther and Daniel and Paul. Read and take courage. Be encouraged by the way they play their parts.
And He will come again on a fiery white steed. I am holding out for Him.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Revelation 19:11-12, 16