Devotional 6/14: Heroes
A Prayer for Owen Meaney (1990) by John Irving is one of the best books ever written, as per my humble opinion. I read it many, many years ago and it still sticks with me. On the dedication page, Mr. Irving included two quotes that have made a large difference in my life and Philippians 4:6-7 (which is also important to me!) . There is a quote by Fredrick Buechner and another quote by a man named Leon Bloy. The quote by Buechner is from his book Wishful Thinking (1993):
“Not the least of my problems is that I can hardly even imagine what kind of an experience a genuine, self-authenticating religious experience would be. Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.”
The quote by Leon Bloy is
Any Christian who is not a hero is a pig
Now, Mr. Bloy was a writer during the early 20th century. He hobnobbed with great men like Emile Zola and others. None of them liked him. I think it is because he was not afraid of standing up for his strong Catholic faith. That is why he called his book, Disagreeable Tales. I find his history fascinating and one-of-these-days intend on reading more of his work.
However, that quote of his has been dogging me a lot lately and I think it applies to anyone of Judeo-Christian values. It worries me. It worries me because I look at people of faith in the past who have come out with a demonstrative expression for the Lord and then made mistakes and the whole world laughed at them. Mel Gibson comes to mind who was very outgoing about his faith for a while, and then when he made a mistake, the whole world laughed at him. For his drunken tirade, he was the butt of every comedian’s joke. When all that happened with his drunken arrest, to show my support for him, I bought a copy of The Beaver but I confess I have not watched it yet. Nothing personal, Mel! Thankfully, he does have great talent in both acting and directing and was able to come back with Hacksaw Ridge.
Another example of this is the infamous televangelist, Robert Tilton. Now, I am not supporting or decrying televanglists. However, back in the 1980s and 90s, his ministry was making millions and millions of dollars each week from prayer napkins and outright donations. There is no doubt that he was up in front of millions of people each week.Whether or not you believe that he did any good for anyone or was called by God, he was definitely in a leadership position, probably a hero to some. Today, according to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkXxnskFizg, all he does is preach to a small group of 5-7 people on a Sunday afternoon at a hotel meeting room in California. Just like Mr. Gibson, he was put under a microscope and took a tumble. I am not saying that Mr. Tilton or Mr. Gibson did or did not deserve their situations/fates/falls/redemptions. It is NOT my duty to judge them.
A large part of me is scared of being a hero. To be a hero for the Lord is to be looked at closely and I have made mistakes in life, mistakes I hope don’t get broadcast on national news. For example, I have been known to occasionally drink milk right from the container and sometimes when I am at an on-ramp to a major highway, I don’t exactly wait the entire time for the green-light! Seriously though, I have done things I am ashamed of and so has everyone. One may laugh and say, well, the number of people that are looking at me and my life are not the same the number of people looking at Mel Gibson! And I certainly am not pulling in the millions that Tilton did.
There are so many examples of people of faith who have shrank back from being a hero it is too easy a target. The Bible is full of examples, one man named Peter comes to mind, another was Jonah, and there were many others. Individually, we can all say that when called by the Lord to do something we have shrank back while worrying about what people who are watching would think. at one time or another.
Yet, we are ALL called to be like Isaiah and say, ‘Lord send me, use me, here am I!’ (Isaiah 6:8 paraphrase) and He may use you, me, anyone in a way that will be put you, me, anyone living their life in front of a lot of people and in the microscope.
I am seeing this becoming truer and truer each time I turn on the TV. Many, many, many individuals have been fired or families have lost their businesses in the past four or so years not because they cheated old people out of their savings or were incredibly sloshed and said some insensitive things. They lost their businesses, were fired, were put on a black-list because they took the Lord at His Word to love and serve our neighbors but not be a partner to what they considered to be sin. As our American society goes farther and farther away from our Judeo-Christian heritage, more and more of us will suffer this fate (or worse). People of faith will continue to be seen as more and more disagreeable and more and more of us will be put under microscopes as they desperately search for things in our lives that prove to them we are as sinful as they are. This will also happen as the number of us dwindles, as the Bible says it will.
So no, don’t drink milk straight out of the container and make sure the light has turned green before pulling out onto the highway. You are a hero to them whether you want to be one or not, Don’t be a pig and shrink when you are called to give an account of the hope inside of you. The world is watching and judging from the greatest of us to the least of us.
Philippians 4: 6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.