Growing up in Southern Ohio I had my share of heroes. Most of them were sports heroes like Ohio State basketball player Jerry Lucas and Cleveland Brown’s running back Jim Brown. My baseball hero was not named Mantle or Mays or Musial. My baseball hero was a rather average Cincinnati Reds player named Gordy Coleman.
I am not sure why I picked him. Maybe because he played first base and that is where I played. But I lived and died with Gordy’s daily efforts. Since he was not a star player on most days I died a little.
As I grew older I learned that heroes will usually let you down. I admired political leaders only to be sorely disappointed by their actions. I placed some spiritual leaders in high esteem only to be wounded by their actions. The recent revelations about Tiger Woods has revived the debate about whether celebrities should be viewed as heroes or role models at all. The reality is that they will always be role models to some extent. But I hope that parents will start to point out to their children that the real heroes in our lives don’t fly private jets and live in seaside villas. The real heroes in our lives serve in the military and unselfishly risk their lives to protect my freedom and yours. The real heroes put on a police or fireman uniform and go into dangerous situations with little fanfare. The real heroes teach school in difficult neighborhoods. The real heroes minister in tough inner cities or prisons.
Sometimes a hero comes unexpectedly into your life and it can be easy to miss. I had that experience last week at church. A hero came through the door. Her name is Billye. She has been a ray of sunshine in our little church since it began five years ago. We have watched sadly as she went from participating in three-legged sack races just five years ago to not being able to walk today. A debilitating condition has robbed her of strength and speech. But every week she dresses in her finest (almost always sporting a jaunty hat) and makes it to church to worship her God and be with her spiritual family.
Recently her condition worsened and Billye’s pain increased. There was some question about her even making it to the New Year. I was talking about her declining health with my buddy Duke when I noticed his eyes light up. Even as we discussed Billye I turned and saw her wheeling in to church all dressed up and smiling a weak but contented smile. Billye was where she wanted to be. In church to worship her God and be with her family. She is my hero. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her and her family to get Billye all prettied up and to church. But she did it. So the next time I wake up with a hang nail or headache and rationalize not going to church I am going to think about my hero. And I am going to get off my hindquarters and get going.
Billye has lived the words of Paul to the Roman church.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5, NLT)
I often quote my late friend John Weber who offered this insight. “God doesn’t call us to be spectacular. He just calls us to be faithful”.
Billye is a great example of that wisdom. All she was doing last Sunday was being faithful. How God used it was spectacular.