Heroes in the Ordinary


All of us admire people who’ve achieved great things in life. We are drawn by heroism in every sphere of life. We want to be like them or be associated with them. You might actually say all our history and moral stories are written with the hero in mind. It’s the man who beat the odds and achieved what looked impossible that has a story to tell. It’s the man who’s brought up a family and educated his children amidst all kinds of challenges that we admire. It’s the leader who’s lead well and made fortunes for his people that wins a legacy. The man who inspires is the one who stood and fought for what he believed to be right even when the whole world was against him. Hero mentality shapes a lot of what we do and desire.

I actually think the recent push in churches on getting people to know their God given purpose is informed by this. We want to believe there’s something great only we can achieve and when we find it then we’ll have made it in life. If we can find something to live for then our lives will count for something. We’ll make it in life leaving an impact and we believe God will be happy with us. Anyone who is a dreamer lives in that world and we cheer them on to keep dreaming. All dreams are valid and the sky is the limit we say.

Some of us aim for higher goals, to become a household name or at least a man of influence in our circles. But then we grow up and realize somethings are not as easy as we had dreamt. Still we hope we’ll make a significant contribution where God has placed us. And at the very least we hope people will remember us for something. Something to be said on our funeral that we did right and lived for. Of course life is not always as linear and we can get bitter, selfish and disillusioned to care for anything. But still for the most part we admire heroism even if only to be associated with it.

Here I’m not just thinking of the public space but even within family. We want to go past where our parents reached or be like them if we deemed them successful. Men want to emulate other men who have done great things for their families however they define that. Dad wants their children to grow up admiring them or at least go beyond them. Women want to be associated with great men whether at home or in the society. We are all drunk with heroism until something else replaces that good addiction. I think the problem with us is we are always looking at the end of the story not the process. For the most part we think it’s an event that will scale us high to raise our heroic flag. It’ll be an impossible situation that only we could help out. It’ll be an instant that calls us to rise to the occasion and showcase our greatness.

But while we know a lot of heroes by key moments in history they are actually defined long before in the ordinary life. They are heroes before they climb the Everest or stand for what’s right. It’s because they stood the ground in the ordinary that they can withstand pressure when it comes to the key moments. But for the most part they are just ordinary people like you and me. Now we don’t have a lot of documented ordinary stories of heroes because for the most part that doesn’t sell. But where we do we realize our heroes are more ordinary than we realize.

I was just thinking about the heroes of faith, pardon me if that’s not something you subscribe to. But if you look at the so called heroes of faith like in Hebrews 11, yes you see great extraordinary things they did that defined them. But if you looked closely you’d also realise a lot of ordinariness that we miss. That they were actually normal people with weaknesses and some made serious blunders in life. But they’re recorded as heroes because of what they believed and were willing to stand and where need be, die for. That faith made them scale high in history but for the most part they applied it in the ordinary life. They were just normal people living for what they believed and sometimes even had their doubts.

Think about Abraham the father of faith. Most people know him for his willingness to leave his home to follow God, for trusting God for a son in old age and even being ready to sacrifice him in obedience and faith to God. But the whole story of Abraham that is undocumented is mostly a man living ordinary life and trusting God to fulfill his promise. Theres a lot of waiting time and Abraham isn’t always a saint through and through. Remember his story in Egypt? Take any other character in the list and you’ll see that one, they were human, weak and sinful. Second, for many we know them by key moments of faith and not much else. But third, we realize that faith must have been practised not only in the key moments but in the ordinary life.

I think it’s the ordinary that shapes heroes long before it comes to a key moment. Think about the greatest of those heroes, our Lord Jesus. The world knows him for his death and resurrection, the sermon on the mountain and maybe his controversy with the religious class. But looking at his life however exceptional we read in a lot of ordinary life. He’s walking with his disciples, he’s eating in a tax collectors house and sometimes he’s hungry and disappointed. But what makes it all different is that his faith permeates through the ordinary. His faith and trust in God doesn’t just appear at the tail end of his life but is evident all through and through.

Perhaps we should focus more on the ordinary life even as we dream of the tail end that defines our heroism. Don’t just dream of one day standing and willing to die for what you believe. Practise what you believe in the ordinary away from the limelight. Because if one day we might call you a hero you’ll have been one long before in the ordinary. When it comes to it the process is what makes heroes in the end. It’s how we live in the ordinary life that will shape us into what we aspire to be. If we do this we might realise it’s easier to be a hero than we imagine. Take one day at a time, live for God and apply what you believe.

True Christian heroism is defined not only by where we stand at the end but by the process. It’s in the ordinary that our sanctification is achieved. It’s in the ordinary that we live for God and our faith shines in this life. When we are at home raising our kids. At school when we are preparing for that exam. In that marriage not on special days. When we are in that office on a Tuesday and it’s just a normal day at work. The difference is our faith should permeate all through it. Our heroism is shaped not by key moments but in the ordinary. And at the end it’s how we lived in the ordinary that will count.

13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12.

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