I remember back in 1967 the first time I saw my college philosophy professor cutting his own grass in grubby clothes. There seemed at the time to be such a gulf between mowing grass and metaphysics that I just stared in amazement. In last Thursday’s Tribune there was a report on the J.R.R. Tolkien conference at Marquette University in Milwaukee. My old English professor, Clyde Kilby, who worked with Tolkien on the Simarillion in 1966, was reported to have said that Tolkien (who wrote the spectacularly successful Lord of the Rings) “was just an ordinary man going through a very ordinary kind of life. He had all the problems of a normal human being, somewhat accentuated by his great mind and soul.” I had hiccups when I read that. So I tried to imagine Tolkien with hiccups. The best way to bring a hero down to earth is to imagine him with hiccups.
So what should we do? Have no heroes? That is a very modern conclusion. Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy both put their pants on one leg at a time. Conclusion: Don’t make heroes out of ordinary guys. Look at the soap operas. See any heroes? It’s not “in” to have heroes. It’s not democratic. Heroes imply de facto discrimination. Having heroes doesn’t enhance your self-image. Heroes are projections of your own sense of inadequacy. Besides, there aren’t any real heroes. They all get hiccups.
he’ ro (hērˊō), n. pl. -ROES (-ōz). A central personage taking an admirable part in any remarkable action or event; hence, a person regarded as a model.
Well, I believe in heroes. Yes, sir! In fact, I think one reason we settle for such ordinary “soap opera” lives is because we have no heroes. Nobody’s picture is pinned on our wall to spur us on to greatness. The Bible teaches us to have heroes. Isn’t that what Hebrews 11 means? Pick a hero! “Consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith!” (Hebrews 13:7).
Who is your hero? O, how we need heroes to draw us up out of the inertia of the ordinary. Get a hero. Not to be able to find one is to admit that life is blah and has always been blah. But life in Christ must not—cannot—be blah. Look at Christian biography! Talk to Donna Rasmussen about the thrill and challenge of The Henrietta Mears Story! Talk to Tom Steller about Dallimore’s George Whitefield! Talk to me about Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis and Daniel Fuller!
You will never feel life is hopeless and blah if you find a great Christian hero. Of course, they all got hiccups. But that’s part of the excitement: they are like us and look what God did through them!
In quest of the best with you,