Heroes Worth Having

I’ve been working on a special project for a few weeks now, trying to get it just right before I shared it with the rest of the world. But, then something happened that made me stop and think. In fact, two somethings happened.

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a child about heroes. I don’t remember for sure what started the conversation, but somehow that’s where we ended up. When I asked who this child’s hero was the answer was telling. Not about the child per se but rather about our society.

When I was growing up, heroes were people who accomplished great feats. Men and women who explored new frontiers. Inventors were heroes. Scientists, authors, missionaries, doctors, nurses, soldiers, firemen, policemen, teachers, astronauts, moms and dads—all heroes.

But things have changed. As I listened to this child’s description of their hero, I was saddened. I had never heard of this hero before. As far as I could tell, their greatest achievement was scoring 25 bazillion YouTube subscribers. I failed to see any cause for awe or inspiration in that achievement (maybe I’m just getting old), so I asked, “What is it about them that makes you look up to them?”

“Well,” the child faltered, “um, I guess they worked hard and were successful because of it. I guess.”

I am all for hard work, and I’ve made enough YouTube videos in my time to know that no small amount of work goes into it. But, what is being produced in this particular case isn’t hero material.

I had to ask myself, “How did we get to this point?”

* * *

Sunday morning, right in the middle of Sunday School class, my niece blurted out, “Well, that’s a strange name for a book, Aunt Rachel.”

Completely taken off guard, I stared at her for a moment. Then I said, “What book are you talking about?”

“That one. A Chance to Die. Right there.” She got up and came around the corner of the table, pointing at a book on the bottom shelf of my bookcase.

“Oh, that is a very good book!” The lesson came to a screeching halt as I stepped over to the bookcase and pulled the book out of its place. “This is a good book, it isn’t easy to read, but it is a good book.”

I turned the book so that everyone could see the picture of the woman on the cover. “This is the story of a woman named Amy Carmichael. She was a missionary.” I told them about Amy’s life, the children she helped, the daring things she had done, the difference she had made for Christ. By the time I was done, I was ready to read the book again.

“You know,” I told them, “when I was about your age, I read a children’s book about her. I still have it. If you ever want to read it, you can. She has been one of my heroes ever since.”

I thought about those two conversations off and on all afternoon, and I realized it was time to move ahead with my project whether it was perfect or not. Why? Because we need heroes—real heroes. The kind that inspire us to do more than we ever thought imaginable.

As I was writing this, I realized something about the people we held as heroes when I was a kid. They all have one thing in common. Every one of them was either willing to risk their own life or driven to save and shape the lives of others or both. Their career paths weren’t based on what they wanted for themselves. They weren’t about fame and popularity. The path they followed was a chance to make a difference, even if it meant their lives. They understood that some things are just as worth dying for as they are worth living for. They understood that comfort and security weren’t everything in life, and that without taking risks we never get very far.

These people weren’t superhuman. They were everyday, ordinary people just like us, but they were willing to lay down the things that most of us are not willing to give up. They went looking for a chance to die, so the rest of us could live.

So, what’s my project? I love to read about men and women like Amy Carmichael, whom God has used to accomplish great exploits. I’m often discouraged when I walk through Christian bookstores and can’t find a single biography on men and women of the past. For a very long time, I’ve wanted to host an online bookstore that would pull these great stories together to inspire us all to live a life that counts. Now, I’ve found a way.

The Fruitful Gardens Shop is an Amazon Associates store, which links to this blog. It pulls some of the best biographies, devotionals, inspirational writings, and even fiction all together in one place. (And, yes, you can find both “A Chance to Die” and the children’s book “With Daring Faith” there.) It is my hope that this shop will be a helpful resource and a source of encouragement and inspiration to you. I am still adding products and would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. I hope it will help us to seek out better heroes, and inspire us to become like them.

Who is your hero and what is your favorite biography? Please share in the comments below.

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