Looking up to Heroes

When I was a boy I thought like a boy. I behaved like a boy. I understood like a boy. I was deeply impressed by heroes. Mostly, they were figures from the sports world. There was Doak Walker, Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, Sammy Baugh, Bob Waterfield, Felix “Doc” Blanchard, Johnny Lujack. I hoarded and traded baseball cards.

As we grow older, our heroes change, but we don’t stop having them. Enter into my home today and it will not take long for you to see who my heroes are now. You can’t miss the portraits of Martin Luther, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee. You’ll see the fading photographs of my father and my grandfather. You’ll see the works of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Jonathan Edwards. You’ll hear me speak of John Gerstner. These names are readily apparent in my office—though perhaps a bit incongruous next to the framed portrait of Arnold Palmer.

Strange, isn’t it? We need models. We need leaders who inspire us, real people of flesh and blood who embody character traits we admire, for in that admiration and inspiration comes emulation. I know that I shall never be Martin Luther. God and all my golf teachers know I’ll never be Arnold Palmer. I cannot be these men. But I can try to be like them. I can imitate their courage as I face life’s challenges. I can be strengthened by their examples.

Though the “cloud of witnesses” cited in Hebrews 11 is a list of heroes and heroines, they are, nevertheless, people of real flesh and blood whose lives are set forth for us in sacred Scripture. Their portraits are painted there for us, warts and all. We even find something praiseworthy, something worth emulating, in the life of the harlot, Rahab.

Let us never grow up so far that we can no longer look up.

Coram Deo

Who are your heroes? What positive examples do they provide for your spiritual life?

Passages for Further Study

Hebrews 12:1–2
Psalm 123:1–2

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