Did you ever know that you are my hero and everything I would like to be? begins the chorus to the song Bette Midler made famous in the late 80’s. She goes on to sing that she “can fly higher than an eagle, you are the wind beneath my wings.” For some, this song will bring back nostalgia of stone wash jeans, big hair, and Bozo the Clown. For others like myself, you are annoyed because that catchy chorus will be stuck in your head until someone plays another annoying song and off your brains goes unwilling to turn the music off.
Heroes are difficult to quantify. Children may choose actors, musicians, action figures (Ninja Turtles/GI Joe), or sports stars. Adults usually choose someone rich, famous, or both. While the rich and famous will choose mom. The most noble of people will choose someone from history who broke barriers in some form or fashion. As that catchy and horrible song was stuck in my head, I thought about heroes. I also plan to use three people in an upcoming sermon illustration where I will be speaking to some youth. I thought I would share my heroes with you.
The first is Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He began his public life as a physician in England. He wasn’t just any old doctor. He worked as an assistant to the Royal Physician in England, making him the number two doctor in the country and the heir apparent to become the next Royal Physician. He left all of that, the prestige, the importance, and money to become a pastor. He became pastor first in Port Talbort and later in Westminster Chapel. All in all, he pastored for 41 years. After he retired, he spent time in ministry and focused on publishing his sermons and other books. His most famous is a 14 volume set on Romans. If you are interested I really liked this biography on his life. He’s a hero because he didn’t count the fame of this world or its prestige over a call to follow the Lord.
The second is an older guy who was a famous cricket player in the late 1880’s. Cricket is a funny sport popular in most countries not on the American continents. Charles Thomas Studd (C.T.) left a sure career in sports to work alongside Hudson Taylor in China. Studd came from a wealthy family however, he wanted nothing to do with the his inheritance. He gave it all away, the majority to the orphanages of George Muller. He later did missionary work in India and Africa where he began mission work in Sudan. Cricketeer turned missionary, C.T. Studd said, “Some want to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” He did just that, forsaking an inheritance and fame to live a life on mission. Studd was part of a huge student movement that has been well documented. I really enjoyed a short little book about seven of them from Cambridge.
My third hero is someone most do not know. His story continues to be an encouragement to me. I am praying his story will inspire you as it has me and when I share it to the youth that they will live like him. I can’t share his name but I’ll tell you his story. He’s surely a hero of the greatest kind. I first met him after his wife passed away from cancer. He and his wife worked and saved their whole life so they could retire at 55. I walked into his house in a gated community. I remember seeing the lake, hot tub, and pool while standing in a well decorated house with top end everything. He was a new believer, a new change for him that happened after his wife’s passing. What happened next is nothing less than phenomenal.
He took a class called Perspectives. Perspectives is a 15 week course designed to give a good overview of the various people groups in the world and missions. This course changed his life in two ways. First, he met a lady there who desired to return to the mission field. She was the facilitator of the class and shortly thereafter became his wife. Secondly, the Lord opened his eyes to the need in the world so he retired early, just like he planned but completely different. He sold his house, sold his stuff, and lived in a small apartment above a furniture store while he raised support. He moved to another country and started learning a new language, no easy task, especially in the back half of your life. He left a life of retirement with golfing and relaxing for a life of gospel mission and struggle. Since he left for his new home, it has not been easy but he shows a resolve that is only forged by God. I could not be more proud to know him. His testimony speaks to multiple continents and we will add one more next Monday when a group of young people hear his story.
Heroes are a funny thing. Each of the three would have never aspired to be a hero or claim to be one but they are for sure. They are not a hero because of what they did but because the story of their life inspires. It inspires because they rejected the things of the world for a better life, a life to come. Hebrews 11 is full of biblical examples. These three heroes of mine lived in the same way as those heroes in Hebrews 11, “of whom the world was not worthy.”