Saturday, June 16, 2012

I wanna be a hero, Part II

Bob Parr, "The Incredibles"
In Pixar's masterful work, The Incredibles, Buddy Pine loves the heroes. He wants to be a hero. When dusted by Mr. Incredible (aka Bob Parr), Buddy takes matters into his own hands. He's going to be a hero. He'll be noticed.

And that's precisely the problem with wanting to be a hero. You get your perspective all askew, and pretty soon you've wreaked havoc on a city and have become jet-engine paté.

When last we met on these hallowed shores, the topic on the table was man's innate desire to do things heroic, a desire knit by God into the fabric of his being. If you so desire, you can catch up by touching here (you can also hear there the song that got me cogitating on the subject in the first place).

There is a huge difference between desiring to be a hero and desiring to do something heroic. The one points inward while the other points outward.

But who doesn't relish praise? In the right context, it's not a bad thing. Consider that even Jesus encouraged his hearers to live in such a way that they might one day hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" tumble from the lips of the Father (Matthew 25:21, 23). If my entire purpose in life becomes my glory, I have missed the most important purpose for my life and that is his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). When one longs for his own praises, he becomes the character in the second verse of Steve Taylor's, "Hero."
    Growing older you'll find
    That illusions are bought
    And the idol you thought you'd be
    Was just another zero.

    I wanna be a hero.

    Heroes died when the squealers bought 'em off,
    Died when the dealers got 'em off,
    Welcome to the "in it for money as an idol" show.

    When they ain't as big as life,
    When they ditch their second wife,
    Where's the boy to go?

    Gotta be a hero.

    It's a nice-boy notion that the real world's gonna destroy.
    You know
    It's a Marvel comic book Saturday matinee fairytale, boy.
Wow. That's a downer. When hall-of-famers end their human race by putting a shotgun in their mouth because they can't cope. When men of God walk into sin by closing the door to counsel the distraught woman ("she needs me, you know"). When Presidents disgrace their office and thereby our nation with a game of White House fellatio. When families lie in rubble because their man didn't hit it big at the poker table when he knew he would, or because the second mortgage went to pay off the pusher to get one more bag, or because the boss (and the police) finally caught up with the money he was skimming from the company's coffers.

Just another zero. But I wanna be a hero. I gotta be a hero.

Wanna? Okay. Gotta? Not really. Desiring to be used heroically by God or to do heroic things is as normal as Blake Griffin defying gravity and hitting 7.9 on the richter scale with a slam dunk that reverberates all the way to Schenectady. Trying to be a hero leads to vanity, self-absorption, compromise, and putting yourself on the throne in God's stead.

To be usable in the hands of God, to be used in any manner he sees fit, it starts with the small stuff because that's where God calls you to be faithful.

-- Tell the truth because you love God, you know he is the source and God of truth (Psalm 119:160), and you want to look like your heavenly Father.

-- Do not steal but give because God is a God who is lavish in his giving and calls us to be the pipeline of his grace and goodness to those starved for such nourishment.

-- Be faithful to your woman because you love God and because God is ever faithful, you long to be like him and please him by remaining true to your wife.

-- Obey God in all the little things. If we cannot be faithful in the small stuff, can we be entrusted at all with the big stuff (Matthew 25:23)?

The real hero is the guy still eager to get home to his wife after work not despite but because of having lived together for 45 years.

He is the guy who has been a faithful and true laborer for his company for fifty years, happy to have and to do his job which he does so with the dependability of the sunrise.

He's the unknown guy who has served on the mission field for 60 years for God's good pleasure.

Really, brother, the best hero, the real Hero in this drama remains unchanged. He's the example for all to follow, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Verse three from Mr. Taylor.
    When the house fell asleep
    From a book I was led
    To a light that I never knew.

    "I wanna be your hero."

    And he spoke to my heart
    From the moment I prayed,

    "Here's a pattern I made for you.
    "I wanna be your hero. 

    "I wanna be your hero."
Wow, again. The very One who said, "No greater love has any man than this that he lay down his life for his friends," defined heroism with his life. He is the greatest good. He so loved the world that he became man that he might die as a man to save those who would turn to him from eternal damnation. And "To all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God" (John 1:12). Wow.

It is quite likely that the real hero will never comprehend in this life the full extent of his heroics because though he longs to accomplish them, he won't realize he is so doing. It will be the furthest thing from his mind. It will go unrecognized and unheralded, but that never means it will go unseen. 

Be obedient in all things. Live bowed and submitted to our God and King, so much so that when we are finished, we can only respond that we have done our duty (Luke 17:10). We have carried out the commands of our Master.

Then, on that day, the King will call us before his throne. We will go with uncertainty, awed and humbled at the splendor of his glory. Jesus will look into our eyes, put his hands on our shoulders, and with a smile at his lips and a tear in his eye, say, "Well done." Stunned by such proclamation, we will replay the 8-track of our life trying to pinpoint the Super Bowl touchdown or the grenade we fell upon of which he is speaking, only to find that there were no such events. 

With perfect clarity, Christ will recount the tiniest details of the minutest acts that we did for his glory--things we thought so inconsequential, and he will say, "These things you did for me!"

You might not have to dart into a burning home. You may never administer CPR or the Heimlich. You might not score a goal or be asked your opinion by anyone outside your family. Such opportunities are not of your make. You can only be ready to respond, "Here am I! Send me, please." Until then, just do those things God calls you to do and trust him for the outcome. There is nothing more heroic.

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