by William Worrell
Heroes. You know! They’re the folks who seem to always save the day, and then ride off into the sunset. Come on, you know what I mean by hero. Don’t you? Everybody has one—admitted or not. And you know what? I just bet that you’ve got one too. Don’t you? Come on! Admit it!
We allow ourselves to be captivated by the over-the-top imaginations of those who look like us but show a capacity or two that we only dream of. Heroes have always held a strong influence in American culture. They’ve always been a source of encouragement and hope. Why? Simply because they’re real. Simply because we need heroes. I mean genuine heroes—authentic men and women who are admired for their achievements, noble qualities and courage. They stand a cut above. Yet they are real human beings with flaws and failures like anyone else. But these heroic individuals inspire us to do better, go farther—no matter the success and regardless of the failure.
I was vividly reminded of this some time ago when I saw the video documenting the Apollo Tragedy. The initial scene is of the Apollo I astronauts strapped into their launch couches. They are nearing the end of the dress rehearsal for their launch day. Everything was going beautifully as appeared the norm for a NASA operation. Suddenly, there came the alarming report: “Fire on the pad! Fire in the spacecraft!” Immediately, NASA fire and rescue personnel descended on the Apollo spacecraft. Yet, despite the speed and training of the NASA rescue teams—they could not move fast enough to save the crew of Apollo I.
That fateful evening saw the American space program interrupted for nearly a year. The Apollo command capsule was completely redesigned and rebuilt. When space operations finally resumed, they began with Apollo VIII. Finally, it was launch day again. As Apollo neared the end of its countdown, all the engineers, workers and officials who had worked so hard over the past months, gathered to watch.
As the countdown reached zero, and the engines engaged, you could feel the excitement and anticipation building inside those people. When the capsule communicator (CapCom) gave the report, “We have ignition. We have lift-off,” something just about exploded inside these people.
As the spacecraft cleared the launch tower, nearly every grown man there watching were either screaming, “Go! Go! Go!,” or crying tears of joy. Heroes all. They had confronted failure and turned it into success. We feel warm inside when we think about this rare breed of humanity. These are the kind of people we look up to without suspension of deception or hypocrisy. Heroes. Those who model excellence when no one is looking—or when half the world is looking.
Heroes are real! We encounter them every day. Heroes chase criminals. Heroes put fires out. Heroes are found on battlefields in the name of the nation they love. The hero narrative is found in the bible too. Its like the guys that stood out among King David’s warriors—dudes Israel’s history term mighty men. In their moment, we catch a glimpse of what our own path to the heroic might be like.
The narrative is found in 2 Samuel 23 where three men overhear their king longing for some better tasting water from a well in Bethlehem. As we all do during times of stress, he was reminiscing simpler days during childhood. Yet when you love someone and care for him, these mighty men snuck from the camp, penetrated enemy territory, and returned hours later with the prized liquid. David, overwhelmed by their love for him, lifted the canteen up to God rather than to his lips and poured the contents out in an act of worship. The water had done its job—and more!! From their action we learn what it takes to be a hero—and how to learn the hero’s edge.
The words of David ring down through the corridors of time: “Is there not a cause?” The point? The point is that a cause is needed for the hero to emerge. Heroes edge number one: Heroes find their cause in the needs of others. The Apostle Paul modeled this when he begged the Philippians to put the needs of others ahead of their own. That’s the marking of a hero. That’s what they do—when people need help ushers in the hero, ‘cause it’s the cause that demands a response. Its here we find the next heroic edge.
Back to David and his Mighty Men, why would they risk such a thing? It’s really rather simple, the hero’s heart erupts with passion. David’s men weren’t simply seeking their next testosterone fix. They were sold out on David and anything he desired they would find a way to supply.
Hero’s edge number two: A hero’s true “super” power is his heart. Its not his muscle, speed or brains. His ability may say he can yet it’s his passion that says he will. Father God poured out such passion when He dealt with this planet and those who run after Him soon find that same passion, for those in need, in their hearts. After all, we’re to be like Him. In having His heroic passion, we find ourselves being propelled into action.
The hero narrative is an action narrative—all hero stories are! The hero narrative requires someone whose passion stirs their feet. Hero’s edge number three: The hero is the one who moves first. That is a requirement to be a hero. He’s the guy who did “what was needed.” It’s the girl who “stepped forward.” Heroes hear the cry for help—and move. Heroes don’t make decisions based on what their friends may do. The hero is the first to go—then others follow. Heroes are heroes because they demonstrate value.
Warriors find a way to fight again. The hero finds the way to win—sometimes despite the price. Sometimes, the end brings the end of our hero. For David’s men, they found the “happy ending” as they lived to fight another day. Other heroes find themselves paying the “ultimate price in accomplishing their coveted work. Jesus said, there’s no greater love than when one lays down their life.
Hero’s edge number four: the hero’s narrative is defined by what he’s done…not by how it ends. History’s canvas is replete with stories of how the Apostles—Heroes of the Faith met grisly endings. . Still others are recorded in Hebrews 11 of those who by faith gave themselves for the cause of the Kingdom. Even in our times, heroes step forward with no thought of ever coming back. Its what makes them heroes—and the world doesn’t deserve them.
True heroes challenge the excuse-laden mediocrity of our lives and open us to new possibilities of what might be. The hero shows us by his example that higher purposes in life are key to our richest potentials. Our duty to one another is modeled by the hero’s unselfishness. The point is that there is a help wanted sign hanging in the window: Heroes Wanted…. The abandoned, the abused and those suffering placed it there. Can you hear it? If you listen closely you can hear the call of the one desperate for a response.