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September 16, 2010

my hero

I spent many of my nearly 25 years looking for a hero. Yes, "I need a hero...He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast...He's gotta be sure...and he's gotta be larger than life." [Insert cheesy Bonnie Tyler I Need a Hero song here].

And you know, "he" didn't even have to be a "he." Sure, a boyfriend would have been (and still would be) nice, but essentially I remember beginning to long for deep peer friendships during my teenage years. Spiritual friendships, where we could talk about God's Word and grow together. I wanted friends who would love, challenge and encourage me, based on Truth. This was not something that I found readily in my high school years, but that meant that God had opportunity to speak to me. On quiet nights in my blue-walled bedroom, He taught me that He wanted to be my closest friend. He was enough!

Even so, God created me to be in fellowship with other humans, and as the years have passed He has graciously brought me into close relationships with individuals and families whom I admire. As I watch them live, I am a sponge, soaking up wisdom and grace. We talk about Jesus at breakfast, lunch or supper and it is completely normal. I love to see them living lives that are worshipful and obedient to their Creator. I love to be with them and learn from them.

But what I have seen happen, sometimes, is that I worship the gifts instead of the Giver. Like the Israelites, who forgot their Provider once they reached His good land, I easily lose my focus. God has had to show me that I cannot depend on my friends' spirituality. In some cases, He accomplished this by showing me that my friends and their families were no more perfect than myself and my family. Suddenly I saw that they were fallible humans—like me. This was a painful discovery. God also did this by physically "taking away my Elijahs." Oswald Chambers writes:
"It is not wrong to depend upon Elijah as long as God gives him to you, but remember the time will come when he will have to go; when he stands no more to your as your guide and leader, because God does not intend he should. You say'I cannot go on without Elijah.' God says you must." (My Utmost, August 11)
God knew that I demanded to see godliness enacted—I wanted a visible human model to follow. When making decisions, I wanted an Elijah to spoon-feed advice to me—I didn't want to have to search the Scriptures and spend time in prayer. Idolatry? I'd say. God wanted me to get my focus back on Him, so He graciously toppled my idols.

Here is the wonder—once my idols were removed, Someone much more satisfying came to the fore. God began to take His place as Hero again. No human friendship would ever satisfy! If my hope is in humans (even godly ones) my heart will yo-yo from happiness to disappointment, based on their performance. I will seek to manipulate and use them to meet my desires, instead of showing them the grace and freedom God has shown to me. But if I esteem Christ as the only lasting Hero, I can gratefully enjoy deep human friendships and yet source my security and joy in my relationship with Christ. I call this change "the fall of my human heroes and the rise of the one, true Hero." He is "strong, fast, sure and larger than life!" To quote another song from the '80s/Footloose, "let's hear it for The Boy!" He is my everything!

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