Holding Out For A Hero? (Why I am and I’m not. But I voted.)

Author with I VOTED sticker, but not for a hero

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.

Contrast Bill

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.

With Barb

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.

And Julia

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.


And Kate

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.

And Shari

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.

But worship only One. And hold out for Him: the Hero who overcomes. Because Bonnie Tyler had that right: He’s gotta be larger than life. He is larger than life because he swallowed up death.

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

The Hardest Part: Waiting is not an interruption. It is God’s plan.

Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Isaiah 25:9

When, Mom? How many more hours until they come? 

The party starts in 9 hours and 20 minutes, Gabe.

Is that a long time, Mom? 

Yes, Gabe.

Now jump back with me 2,000 years. Think of the disciples. Imagine their wait. The risen Christ had appeared twice to the disciples.
But it wasn’t the same as before. Don’t cling to me, he’d said. I go. I am ascending to my Father and yours, he’d told Mary.
But Jesus had left the disciples but hadn’t ascended yet. Between the surprise dinner on Day 8 and Ascension on Day 40, there was a wait. Can you imagine their restless,  what should we do now wait?  

Peter went fishing. Gabe went out to play.

Waiting is our set stage.

Some friends have been waiting a long time in the adoption line. They’d waited awhile even before they “announced” their double Russian referrals to our Bible study with adorable, baby-blue frosted airplane cookies. That was almost four years before this. Before US-Russian relations dropped and our friends’ boy referrals did too.

But they kept waiting. Months later, a referral for another boy from another country came. But he was not to be their son either.  They stayed on the stage a few more months until another referral came. And kept waiting.

Then last month my friend posted this update:

We’ve moved on to the next step of waiting for approval! This did mean a flurry of things had to happen, including paperwork to get his visa and social security number, which meant [we] had to settle on what we were going to do about his name. 

I’ve read the wait doesn’t stop once you’re matched, traveling or back home. Considering we’ve been in the waiting stage (of various types) for a looooong time now, it was good to read that we might just never truly leave that stage and to mentally prepare for that.

You never truly leave that stage. She gets it. This side of heaven, we wait. From a seven-year old’s count-down to be eight to an eighty-seven year old’s count-down to be clothed, all creation waits.

Not An Interruption

For the Christian, waiting is where it’s at.

Our lives are on God’s stage. His choice crew are the Sanctified Waiters. Like Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israel, and Joseph of Arimathea, who waited for the Kingdom of God.  

It’s where God shows up and shows himself strong. It’s the where we see God act. Surely no one has a seen like ours who works for those who wait for him.  

For the Christian, writes Paul Tripp, waiting is not an interruption of the plan. It is the plan.

Knowing that it’s part of God’s good plan doesn’t make it easy. Tom Petty’s lines are timeless, the waiting is the hardest part. We’re right there with Job- God’s servant Job-when we cry, What strength do I have, that I should still hope? And what are my prospects that I should be patient? (Job 6:11)

It takes great strength to wait. Weak people cave. David knew the connection. Be strong, and let your heart take courage and wait for the LORD (27:14).

God gives strength to the weary not after we wait but while we wait. While we we groan inwardly, we wait eagerly. That’s a good, hard Romans 8 wait.

Worth The Wait

We appreciate more who most patiently wait. The hours fasting before dinner make it that much tastier. Planning the trip is half the fun.

When we wait, we gain, what Jane Austen called, “that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.” Maybe it’s not quite that sublime, but it’s true that anticipation of a good thing ahead eases the ache.

But still there is the ache. Waiting is a slow burn with undisclosed outcomes and uncertain timeframes. It tests our patience and tries our faith.

Waiting brings out old idols and can push us toward new ones, like control and self-pity and food and drink abuse too. We say, But if I only knew. It’s this not knowing that makes it so hard.  

In His Place, At His Pace is Hard. And Good.

Exactly. Waiting hard and good. We feel how hard it is. But we need to know that it’s good, because we might not feel that.

Waiting is good because our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on that for which we wait. When we wait for God, as John Piper puts it, in his place and at his pace-we show the watching world that He is worth the wait.

They see God’s worth when we don’t forge ahead with our own plans. But we must be on guard, because waiting tempts us in two big ways.

Two Waiting Temptations

Waiting can tempt us too take a rash detour– to get on with our plan and away from the wait- or to give up altogether. I’ve known both.

We were married ten years before God opened my womb. Mostly I despised that wait in that barren place. I was desperate to bear new life, at reckless price. But for Jim’s resolve, I might have taken a rash detour, taken up a plan, but not his. Only by God’s grace did I stay in his place. 

A few days ago our friends got “the call.” After years on the domestic stage, they fly in sixteen days. When God says move, I guess you move, my friend wrote. By his grace, they go at his pace. 

This is why we, who he created for his glory, are here. We are on this waiting stage to showcase his grace, to show others that the glory of our God is worth our wait.  I waited patiently for the LORD, he inclined to me and heard my cry. Many will see and fear, and put their hope in the LORD (Psalm 40:1,3). 

The off-stage watchers will see us wait for our God to act and, the Psalmist said, will put their hope in our Lord too.

What are you waiting for?

Your house to sell or to finally be well? A conception at last or a loved one to pass? Change in our nation or a child’s salvation? For family peace or conflict to cease?

Take heart: The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him (Lamentations 3:25).

Wait for it. Wait for Him. Stay the course. And remember, right now, at this very second, The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is whole toward him (2 Chronicles 16:9)

God is looking to help you wait well. Which means we don’t lose heart. We do the next thing.

Like Peter did.

Do the next thing.  

Somewhere between week two and day forty, after leaving peace with the locked-in Eleven, Jesus appeared to seven.  And he revealed himself this way:

Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out into the boat, but that night they caught nothing (John 21:2-3).

They did the next thing, while they waited. Remember what happened then?

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net n the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

The rest is history. Peter strips down, throws himself into the sea and they see the Lord for whom they’ve waited.

And guess what? While they were waiting in the boat, doing the next thing, Jesus was on the shore working for them.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread…Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead (John 21:9,12-14). 

This is our God. He works while we wait. He serves his servants and calls them his friends.

And One Day, we will finally exit this waiting stage. The Director will write us off.

And then we will say, You were worth the wait. 

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.  Isaiah 64:4