One of the greatest joys of my life is being a grandfather. Currently my wife and I have 5 precious and beautiful kids that call us “Papa and Gramma” — 2 boys and 3 girls. There's nothing like it!
The 2 boys, now 5 and 3 years old, live nearby, so I'm able to see, up close, some of the stages they go through. In recent months, my 3 year old grandson has been into the “superhero” stage. One day he's Superman, the next he's Batman, a few days later he's Spiderman, and he really loves being Robin, Batman's sidekick.
When he's in “character,” he doesn't want me to call him by his real name. He confidently tells me that his real name IS the name of his superhero “du jour.” And he dresses the part! He's got the capes, the masks, the costumes, the pajamas, and few other items of clothing I'll not mention, that reinforce his inspiring fantasy.
And when he's all dressed up, he thinks he can fly, break down walls, wrestle his “Papa” to the ground, and do a variety of other superhuman feats. On occasion, when he's been out and about with me, he's insisted on “going public” with his hero image. So, if you see me walking into a store or restaurant with a 3' tall Batman, don't worry, it's just Levi.
My grandson's imaginary world does provide us a valuable lesson. There's something inside of us, at least most of us, that desires to make a difference; something that longs to live out qualites that go beyond “ordinary.” We want to be “heroic.”
One definition of a hero is “a person admired for noble qualities.” (Webster) To be “noble” is to excel in character; to live above the norm, morally and relationally. Noble people have a big-heart; a magnanimous spirit that cares for, and sacrifices self for others.
I do believe that God has “hero” moments for all of us. They may not always seem grand or glorious in our estimation. They may not earn us recognition or a medal of honor. But they're nevertheless “heroic.” At these times we put self aside, we lay down our personal agendas and preoccupations and pour ourselves into someone else. We wholeheartedly put our energies into something bigger than ourselves. In these moments the needs of another person or the appeal of an important cause calls us to “step up” and demonstrate something beyond the ordinary.
Not long ago I heard someone say that “heroes aren't designated in advance.” What this means is that no one simply decides one day, or in some situation, to be heroic. Heroes aren't picked or appointed ahead of time, before a crisis arrives or an opportunity presents itself. Heroic living happens when good character is developed, when the right commitments are kept and the right daily choices are consistently made.
The Apostle Paul reminded us to live this way:
… Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. — Philippians 2:3, 4 (The Message)
When we learn to lay down self for service, we're on our way to “heroic living!“