Rather listen to the podcast about God’s hero? Click here to get to this episode on “The Spiritual Coaching Dashboard” in Soundcloud.
QUICK SUMMARY: I love a good action-packed adventure. Though the odds are always stacked against the hero, they bravely manage to tip the scales in their favor. When the dust settles, the universe is safe for another day. Why is that relevant? As a spiritual coach, I hear at least one very sad story just about every day. Some days it is three or four painful and gloomy stories back-to-back.
So, when it comes to relaxing at home in front of a movie, do not even hint at a tear-jerking ending, or anything even close to an emotional moment on the way there. I need to enjoy a few minutes as far removed from the realities of life on planet earth as possible. I need anti-reality. Hollywood can always be depended on to misrepresent reality… no matter the subject. Which is exactly why I turn there when I want an hour or so reality free.
Recently this truth drove me to ask myself, “In real life, what makes a hero a hero?” Really. In God’s eyes. What does he categorize as a hero? For this question, I did not want a hollow, useless answer from Hollywood. To answer my questions I decided to pursue the stories in the Bible of heroic adventures and hearts that were stout enough to stand strong and prevail as God’s hero. Here is what I found.
In the previous article, I gave three critical keys and the first two (of six) truths about God’s heroes:
1. It Ain’t Sexy
2. Zero Before Hero
3. Begin at the Beginning
Six Truths About God’s Heroes:
1. God’s heroes are not born, they are grown.
2. God’s heroes are not super-saints, they are simply saints.
Now, in this installment of the blog we will address the final four:
3. God’s heroes are not perfect, just persistent!
4. God’s heroes do not calculate, they trust!
5. God’s heroes chose to obey God, not be a hero
6. God’s heroes begin!
Ready to Hero-Up?!
God’s Heroes – How to Be One in 6 Easy Truths! (Part 2)
Photo by Ole Witt on Unsplash
by Pastor Kerry Krissel
GO DEEPER: (Read the previous article first and do not skip the QUICK SUMMARY above.)
Let’s roll right into the third truth…
3. God’s heroes are not perfect, just persistent!
Every. single. One. They all have a track record that proves they are human. Many of the Biblical heroes have some pretty messed up backstories. And when the Bible does not record something messed up from their past, it will tell you about something they messed up after their famous victory or act of faith.
Rest assured, even if there is nothing written down in the Bible about their struggles in life, they are there. Everyone struggles either with repeated failure or repeated success, the latter of which can be more problematic than the former.
Abraham could not tell the truth where his wife was concerned for the life of him. And she (Sarah) struggled with unbelief. Jacob, Abraham’s son, was an experienced and successful deceiver. Moses was a murderer and fugitive from justice, it does not get more messed up than that. Sampson had a lust problem that cost him his eyes and his life.
Then there is King David who was also a murderer… and adulterer. Solomon was so messed up I cannot take the space to explain it all. All of those Biblical characters had moments of brilliance, and for someone like Kings David or Solomon, many pilled success upon success.
Famous kings and Scriptural characters throughout the Bible narrative, on down through history, and right up to today illustrate the same truth. Heroes are not perfect people. That is one truth that even the movie industry usually gets right! All champions, including heroes of faith, have falls in their past. Their sin and failure are part of who they became and will make them who they will be.
Everyone struggles either with repeated failure or repeated success, the latter of which can be more problematic than the former.
If you look at your own messed up past and think that there is no way you can be one of God’s heroes, think again. Turn your thinking on its head in fact because, in order to be that hero, according to the pattern and precedent of history, you need a messed-up past! You need to mess up again tomorrow as well. Do not take yourself out of the running if and when you sin. Instead, admit your sin, ask God to forgive you, make whatever restitution and adjustments that are called for, learn from your mistake, and move forward. Allow your failure to drive you to God, listen again for what he wants from you next, or simply pick up where you left off. Either way, finish what you started.
See, God’s heroes responded to God’s call, often reluctantly, in spite of their broken past. God seldom calls those who are on top of their game to join him. Sure, it happens, but they are usually too busy with their own lives to make room for him. They are too self-assured to choose a life of utter dependence on God. They have the tiger by the tail and are loving life.
If God were to put them to work for him, they would be in danger of taking the credit for themselves in arrogant self-promotion (1Corinthians 1:23-30). We need to stumble in order to see what we are made of and to see what God is made of. When we screw up and God is still willing to work through us and touch other lives through us and accomplish his plans through us, it endears us to him. Our heart of devotion and love for God grows deeper and stronger.
God’s heroes are God’s heroes precisely because they messed up plenty, not because they lived defect-free lives!
I have often wondered how those heroes of our faith had the depth of loyalty to God to do what they did, like profess faith in Jesus Christ when it meant certain death. Part of the answer is that they messed up so often, and had come to know God to be faithful and forgiving so well, that their relationship with him was strong enough to own him even when their life depended on it. God’s heroes are God’s heroes precisely because they messed up plenty, not because they lived defect-free lives!
4. God’s heroes do not calculate, they trust!
OK, that is not entirely true. It may be better to say they do not over calculate. But it is true from a certain point of view. From a critical point of view. There has to be some calculating when it comes to finances and timing and strategy and such things when a project or challenge is before us. That is just wise. But analyzing, estimating, even conventional wisdom—they cannot ever override the clear and confirmed direction of God.
Do notice the emphasis on both “clear” and “confirmed.” “Hum, should I sleep with my neighbor’s husband.” You do not need to think about that one, let alone calculate anything?! But when analyzing and estimating wanders into, “do I obey God’s clear commands and confirmed leadings,” calculating is not wise!
Calculating leads to fear. And fear to unbelief. And unbelief to disobedience. What do I mean by “calculating?” I mean stopping to see if you can prevail before you decide if you are going to obey God or not. I mean looking at our present situation and currently available resources and then adding things up to see if we can get there with what is currently on hand.
However, God does not give us the “grace” (his undeserved help) we need until the hour that we need it. We look ahead at some future challenges that God’s calling us to, from where and what we currently are, and calculate that we do not have what we will need in order to prevail. Well, of course you don’t! You have all the grace (God’s help and provision) you need for today, not for tomorrow.
Like the manna in the desert, God provided just what they needed for that day (Exodus 16:13-21). The greedy and fearful that tried to gather more than their immediate need found that it rotted overnight, forcing them to go out each day and gather new manna. If God were to fill us up now with what we will need then, why would we need to trust him any longer?
Crazy impossible or not, what God commands in the Bible, and where he leads when backed up with numerous trustworthy confirmations, that is what God’s heroes do.
Calculating leads to fear. And fear to unbelief. And unbelief to disobedience.
If God is for Us…
Then there is the truth that if God, in his love, is for us, who can ever prevail against us (Romans 8:31-32, 37)? God’s heroes realize, as young David did when standing up to Goliath, that when God is on your side, the battle is the Lord’s to fight and win (1Samuel 17:45-47: cp. Psalm 44:4-8). When God is on our side, there are more that are for us then there are in any army (of people or circumstance) that could every come against us (2Kings 6:8-17).
God’s heroes do not look at their stature or skill or opportunities or the probabilities and weigh their options and calculate the chances of success and then, with all that data collected and measured, decide if success is possible. And depending on the results of said (human and limited) calculations, say “yes” to God if the column ends in the black and “no” if it ends in the red. That is not how God’s heroes roll.
Here is a little news flash. If it is God leading, the calculation will always end up in the red! I did not say that if it looks impossible it has to be God. I said that when it is God it will not just seem impossible without him, it will truly be impossible without him!
Let me quickly interrupt our chat. If you would like to talk to someone about questions or struggles this article surfaced for you, go to the Two Rivers Counseling Center’s website. When you are ready, click the “Get Counseling” link. We can always make a virtual appointment through social media to connect face-to-face. Now back to our discussion.
God’s heroes make sure it is God they are hearing and, when that is confirmed, they trust him knowing that with him on their side, they will have what they need when they need it (Matthew 10:19-20). Now, that does not mean we will have what we need when we think we need it. Only when he knows we need it. Nor does it mean it will be all forward and no setbacks.
And may I remind you that being in the center of God’s will is no guaranteed to be comfortable or reasonable or safe. Throw all that out the window. Think about Mary the mother of Jesus. She was blessed by God, right? Yet she had to endure the stigma (and danger) of being an unwed mother in a culture that did not look kindly on such things. Dead in the middle of God’s unfolding drama and in the most awkward and dangerous situation imaginable! That does not sound like “blessed of God” to me!
And Joseph? Imagine the uncomfortable discussion he had when he found out Mary was pregnant and the angel had not yet appeared to tell him what was going on! Clearly he did not believe Mary’s story because he was getting ready to leave her. Quietly so as not to draw unwanted attention on Mary’s and her apparent and undeniable indiscretion, but leave her nonetheless (Luke 1:26-38 with Matthew 1:18-25). Imagine Mary telling her unbelievable story as Joseph shakes his head and wonders if he needs to have her committed! This is why God’s heroes must trust God not calculate the likelihood of a successful outcome in order to decide if they will follow God into the unknown.
Dead in the middle of God’s unfolding drama and in the most awkward and dangerous situation imaginable. It does not sound like “blessed of God” to me!
5. God’s heroes chose to obey God, not be a hero.
This one is closely connected to the previous one but is important enough to warrant its own point. True heroes do not choose to be heroes. The choice is about obeying God and leaving the results with him. If the question was about becoming a hero or not, at the center of the discussion you would find the person, not God. God would not get the credit, the hero would. Stealing credit from God is a bad idea. If we choose to obey God so we could be the star we have grossly misunderstood the point, at best. At worst we are glory seekers who are following our own plan and promotion and not really following God.
True or False Humility
Now, there is a difference between false humility and real humility. Real humility has no problem receiving a “thank you” or accepting credit for following God. False humility says, “Do not think me, I did not do anything.” Yes, you did do something, and being recognized and thanked for having the faith and courage to follow God’s plan is fine.
Just do not take credit for the plan itself or its favorable outcome. That credit goes to God alone. You may even want to give him praise for giving you the strength to follow, but in the end, there is a decision that must be made. Having the ability and choosing to use it are not the same thing. Ultimately, you must decide what road you will take.
Depending on your theology you may have a different point of view but this one thing we can agree on. True heroes are more concerned about their obedience and God’s reputation than anything else. They are secondly concerned about helping others over helping themselves. True heroes are obedient first, not seeking the glory, but seeking to both protect and deepen their relational connection with God.
True champions choose to know God, not be a hero. Their reputation is not their concern, God’s is. Getting the credit for or building a reputation as God’s hero is not the goal. Pleasing God is. Seeing his plan unfold, is. Stepping up to the privilege of playing a small part in his plan, is. Being able to join forces with the many thousands of Christ-followers over the millennia who have made up God’s family, God’s army, God’s presence on planet earth… That is the goal.
True champions choose to know God, not be a hero… Getting the credit for, or building a reputation as, God’s hero, is not the goal.
6. God’s heroes begin!
As I read along in the biblical narrative, I often stop and incredulously ask myself, “Why in the world did they ever say “yes” to that impossible project!” Yeah, I know, you probably had to be there, or be them, but still? Part of my disbelief is certainly because it was not me who God asked. The project was perfectly presented and prepared for them to execute, taking into consideration what their backstory and what was in their heart. Of course I could not see success in the future, but they could… Or maybe not!
But one thing is true of each and everyone who becomes someone God uses to do heroic exploits… they take a single step. They do a small thing that leads to bigger things. Famous Biblical personalities are Christ-followers that grow into a greater ability to trust God by simply doing life with him. One (small) step at a time. One small step for man, one giant leap for… God’s glory! This grows an assurance that he has prepared them and is all they need in order to do the great things he requires of them, working through their inability (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
It is really that simple. They begin. David did not slay Goliath first, he exercised the courage to kill a lion and bear first. He began to talk about killing Goliath over and over before he did it. He endured and resisted the ridicule and “stand down” order that was shouted at him. Many steps were taken before he stepped onto that field of battle where the giant fell in defeat.
They not only begin but as I have heard it said, they lived out a “long obedience in the same direction.” They begin and then they do not quit. They may feel like it, and even talk about it, and even quit for a time, but in the end, they finish. And when they do, they finish strong. All because they began, and kept beginning. Every day. Doing the mundane. Persisting through the boredom. Completing the tedious.
Real heroes, God’s heroes, hero up again and again. They argue with God and doubt the outcome and have trouble seeing the end. They get discouraged when attacked and despondent when the end seems to be nowhere in sight. Yet they finish. The hero is often not the one who brags after coming in first, but the one who drags himself across the finish line in anything but first place. See, to be a hero you do not have to be the one with the most toys, you simply keep beginning and leave everything else with God.
Ready to Hero-Up?
It may be unhelpful if not incorrect to think of anyone as a hero since true heroes are regular people with just enough pluck to be lead and equipped by God. But since all Christ-followers can be one, I rather like the thought! I wonder if simply obeying God is grounds for hero status? The Catholic church likes to posthumously confer Sainthood on men and women who lived and performed heroically while alive, in ways that modeled to others how to follow God well.
Do we have to wait till we are dead or someone else recognizes our valiant heart to be seen as heroes?
Maybe the better question is, “Can we act like a hero and live like a hero without being called or seen as a hero by anyone but God? The answer is obviously “yes.” And anyone can begin this very day by taking a single, and seemingly un-daring, step.
One thing will lead to another as we follow God into the glorious unknown. It may not be this step that takes you to hero-dome, it may be another that you have yet to take. That you have yet to be presented with. That is many, many steps away. But this one will lead to that one. It is your move. Where is he asking you to begin?
The Chocolate Soldier, by C. T. Studd (1860-1931); There is a free printed copy offered by Worldwide Missions (https://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/msctserm.html) and another read for you on YouTube here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNYqq8Vj0D8.
Again, if you would like to talk to someone about questions or struggles this article surfaced for you, go to the Two Rivers Counseling Center’s website, and look around. When you are ready, click the “Get Counseling” link. Or go directly to the “Get Counseling” request form. If you are not local to upstate New York and cannot come to my office, we can always make a virtual appointment by using social media to connect face-to-face.