Friday, September 14, 2012

Missing Heroes

"...and her own people called her Queen Lucy the Valiant."

In childhood, my heroes were those found in literature.  I still remember the first time I read and then re-read the entire Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S.Lewis.  I read plenty of other stories with heroes and villains, but  the ones about Narnia I went back to over and over again.  Lucy was my hero and I wished I could have looked into Aslan's eyes with her.  It was her faith, her steadfastness, her willingness to believe and to follow Aslan even when others did not that inspired me.

As an adult, the fact that Lucy's own people called her Valiant took on new meaning for me.  Valiant means to act with bravery and boldness, to exhibit courage and determination.  For obvious reasons, one of my favorite synonyms for valiant is "lionhearted".  Originally I thought this would mean being like Joan of Arc, Clara Barton, or Eleanor of Aquitaine...something large looming on the horizon of history. As a young, idealistic woman, that picture is where I thought my life would go.  But my calling has not been thus.  My sphere has been small in comparison to my expectation and has been centered on my husband and children. In this time and culture, the calling of wife and mother is not recognized as heroic; rather it is disdained,  mocked, and ridiculed. So I have had to have my ideal of heroism shaken, stirred, and reshaped.

In Hebrews 11, after a long recounting of all the faith heroes that stand out in the Old Testament, after an accounting of how they all conquered, there are a few sentences of heroes that did not fare as well.  "Others were exposed to the test of public mockery and flogging, and to being left bound in prison.  They were killed by stoning, by being sawn in two; they were murdered by the sword.  They went about with nothing but sheepskins or goatskins to cover them.  They lost everything and yet were spurned and ill-treated by a world too evil to see their worth.  They lived as vagrants in the desert, on the mountains, or in caves or holes in the ground."

Wow. God says that there is an entire class of people who are included in His list of heroes that no one on this earth recognized as heroes.  To all outward appearances, those people did not look SUCCESSFUL.  They were not the perfect beautiful people, they did not have it all together, they did not have an inner circle that they belonged to, they did not have the approval of all the church leaders.  Not only were they outcasts, but they were also sought out for eradication.  The rest of the people who knew them wanted the light of their lives extinguished.  And God says those poor, rejected, persecuted, and reviled people were heroes.  The rest of the story says, "ALL these won a glowing testimony to their faith..."   And our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was one of their company.

It is hard for me to embrace the whole meaning of heroism.  I do not think those people were cruising along and all going well and then one day woke up to wear goatskins.  No, I think it started as an ember of faith planted in their souls and shone out of them in the everyday things they did.  Their form of heroism manifested itself in going without so that their children could be fed and clothed, in losing sleep to rub the aching legs of a child, in laboring so that another could have life, in serving day in and day out in trying circumstances.  After all, Christ said that it was in laying life down for others that we demonstrate the most faith and love possible.  God says that the world cannot see the worth of people like that. God says that we miss the heroes when we don't see their worth because they look like losers.  And isn't that what it looked like when Christ was crucified??  But God...He writes the rest of the story.....