A Hero Was Called Home
By Dr. Mike Murphy
He never preached a sermon. He never led a Bible study. He never taught a single Sunday School class. He never sang a song on Sunday morning that inspired others. But he helped bring more to Christ than all those who had filled each of the above roles in the church.
He was a quiet man. A man of few words, who spoke only when necessary. He would occasionally joke, saying that he was not quiet, it was just that words were to precious to waste. By most standards, he lived his life in the shadows. But in the cover of the shadows he shined, serving Christ with a passion that few would ever duplicate.
When the services were over each Sunday, and the church was again empty, he was still there. Cleaning the leftover bulletins from the pews, placing each Bible and hymnal back in place. Making sure visitor cards were collected, and placed in the office where they could be followed up. He walked the vacant halls, making sure the trash was emptied, the bathrooms were left clean, and everything was in working order. He did all the things that no one thought about, that few even noticed. The unappreciated things that keep the church doors open each week.
Since retiring, he made his way to the quietness of the church each morning. He sat alone in the church and spent time with God. He prayed for the pastor and the staff of the church That God would fill them with His Spirit, that each of their words would reflect His. He prayed for those who had needs. That God would wrap His arms around each, comforting them in His protection and care. He prayed for each who visited the church. That the Lord would lead them to the place they needed to be. And he prayed for those who had yet to visit. That Christ would reach their heart with His truth, and direct their paths to where He needed them most.
Every Sunday morning, his car was the first one in the parking lot. He made the coffee, and placed the pastries on the tray that he had brought for each to enjoy. He made sure each classroom had all the chairs needed, and the nursery had all the supplies each little one could need that day. He set up the microphones, and made sure each was in working order. He made sure each acolyte and choir robe was laid out and ready, and he made sure that each tithing plate was in its’ place. He did all the little things to make sure the day went smooth, that each word and song was heard, and each touching moment was felt.
From the quiet of the shadows he towered. Towering not in the thoughts and minds of man, but in the eyes of our Lord. Each unnoticed moment was heroic in the Lord’s eyes. Each unnoticed effort placed the needs of God above his own needs. Each unnoticed endeavor was an achievement that placed a smile on the Lord’s face.
On a quiet Thursday night, in an emergency room not far from the church, you could hear the heart monitor go silent. He had breathed his last breath of this earth’s air. The church parking lot would sit empty that following Friday morning. And on Sunday, all would only notice that everything was not quite in place. For on that quiet Thursday night, a hero was called Home.
Hero. A word we use to place those on a pedestal. One who is idolized for their courage, worldly achievements, and noble qualities. Men and women of fame and fortune, that this world holds above all others. But we often find that those we raise onto our shoulders, are not the same as a hero in the Lord’s eyes. What God and man define as heroic, are often described with conflicting words, in very different terms.
So what does God see as a hero? I believe that Corrie Ten Boom said it best. “It is not about my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.” God does not measure a hero by talent, but by what we do with the talent He gives us. Each talent is a gift from God, and each talent is given to us with a purpose in mind. And each of these talents are as uniquely given from God as each of us are unique.
Paul said, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Romans 12:6-8. Paul makes it clear, God is not looking for the man with the most talent. God is looking for the man who is willing to use the incredible talent He gives us. God sees no more talent in the pulpit than He does in the pews, in both He sees the potential. The potential to make the most for His glory with these incredible gifts He has given each of us. God calls on us to use our gifts wisely. To use our gifts with purpose and intent. But above all, He just calls on us to use our gifts for Him. Knowing that if we are willing to use them, He will take care of everything else.
I, myself, am the perfect example of this. There are many who could speak this message to you with more charisma than I will ever be capable of. Whose words could move you in ways I never could. Those who could write these words with more clarity and passion than my mind will allow. Who could take these words and paint a picture for you with more detail than I have the simple ability to do. But we must remember, God is not looking in us for greatness. He is already great! He does not need greatness from us, all He needs is the effort. The willingness to let His greatness be seen or heard through us. It is for this reason, I always pray that God will not make me great, that He will just find me willing. For it is in that willingness, that His greatness can be found.
Every gift already comes to us with perfection(James 1:17), already perfect in every way. God just needs us to take these gifts and show the world the perfection in them. Each time we use the incredible gifts He gives us, we show the world the Perfect Hand that created each gift. Each time we are willing to use these gifts for Him, or words tell others of Him, and our actions point those around us to Him. Each time we use these gifts to glorify His name, we show this world the only Hero this world will ever need to see. And each time we are willing to use these perfect gifts, the world sees the image of that Hero reflecting in each of us.
Nowhere do we see this taught to us more than in the words that Jesus taught us. In the Parable of the Talents(Matthew 25:14-30), Christ paints for us the perfect picture of what we can do if we are willing to use the gifts God has given us. In the parable, a wealthy man is about to go on a journey, and entrust his servants with what he has. To one servant, he entrusted five talents. To another, he entrusted two talents. And to another, he entrusted one talent. The first servant, takes the five talents and puts them to work, making his master another five talents. The second servant does the same, doubling the two talents to four. The third servant, decided to dig a hole in the ground and protect away his master’s funds. After a long journey, the master returns and calls each of his servants to him. The first hands him the ten talents, and the master praises him. Knowing he can trust his servant with even more. The second does the same, and the master again praise his servant. As the third comes in, he hands the master the one talent he protected away. The master is disappointed, and furious with the servant. The master sees that he has done nothing with the talent he gave him, taking the talent from him and sending him away.
Like the master in the parable, God wants each of us to make the most of the talent He gives us. To use that talent to bring glory to His name, to be willing to put that talent to work so others may know what He alone has done for each of us. For each of us to see what a blessing each talent can be, and what each talent can accomplish for our Master. But He does not want us to bury our talent away. To deposit it deep within ourselves, never to be used for gain. Wasted away, forgotten without purpose in mind.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10. Every talent we have belongs to God. A precious gift given to us with a purpose in mind. Just like the Word of God, each time we use those gifts their value increases. Our talents not only become blessings to others, but a blessing to ourselves that draws us closer to the One who gave us each of those gifts.
Today, be a hero! Whether you find yourself in the shadows or in the spotlight, be a hero for God today! Put your talents to work for the Lord. Be willing to hear His voice, to follow His call. Go wherever that call leads you. Whether that be speaking to the masses or sweeping your church, do it with joy. Knowing the Lord has a purpose in mind for what He is calling you to do. From the smallest of efforts, history is filled with God creating the greatest of miracles. Miracles that only required for us to step forward, to be willing to let God use us as His hero!
And on a distant day, when Heaven opens its gates for you, I pray the Lord will call another hero Home.
Today, I pray, you will be a hero!