He-Man & Heroes
I came across a picture from my childhood the other day that carries some significant, personal, value.
This is me dressed up as my all-time favorite, evil-slaying, conquering-the-world-with-one-swing-of-his-sword, hero: He-Man! Funny thing about this photo—this wasn’t Halloween. Or my birthday, or some special occasion—like “Hero Day” at my preschool—it was simply Monday. Maybe Tuesday….
I had He-Man EVERYTHING. He-Man underwear. He-Man action figures (including the villainous Skeletor). I watched He-Man cartoons and He-Man the movie. I lived to be He-Man.
It may not come in the form of He-Man underwear or cult-followings of hero action movies, but we all, nonetheless, strive to be heroes. There is something deep within all of us that yearns to do great things, masquerading behind the ordinary life, ordinary job, ordinary name. I think this desire is a gift, and something God wants to use for His Glory.
I came across an interesting little story in Acts today that I had never really remembered, yet I think it speaks volumes into what constitutes a hero. Picking the story up in Acts 20-21, Luke records Paul’s emotional farewell to close friends and fellow leaders of the church at Ephesus as he prepares to set sail on to his next adventure. Compelled by the Spirit, and with plans to grow a church there like he had done so successfully in Ephesus, Paul had his eyes on Jerusalem! But Jerusalem was far from a Christian safe haven. Quite to the contrary, it was notorious for its persecution, as those who confessed to follow the Christ were bound, tortured, and oftentimes killed.
It was on his voyage to Jerusalem that Paul came across a prophet by the name of Agabus in Caesarea. Questioning Paul’s judgment, Agabus took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” Or, in terms that make sense to me: You’re crazy for going to Jerusalem. It very likely will cost you your life.
But Paul’s response is classic, and captures the heart of a hero: I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
God had entrusted Paul with a vision. And to Paul, nothing stood in the way of Him pursuing it—not the threat of imprisonment, persecution, or death. Like Paul, God made each and every one of us with unique gifts and passions and talents. And, like Paul, God has entrusted each of us with a vision. To pursue it is to be a hero.
God doesn’t call everyone to be pastors or teachers or missionaries. Or nurses or athletes or businessmen/women. But He has a plan for you. A vision. A path…and the path which God has set before you is the path God desires for you to be on. To stray from that path or fall short in your pursuit limits yourself in becoming the person—the hero/heroine—God created you to be.
Looking back on it—growing up, I mean—every day was a special occasion because every day I had the opportunity to choose which path (He-Man or otherwise) I walked. Twenty-plus years later, not much has changed.
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)