We love stories about heroes, larger than life men or women who do great things against great odds. Their stories inspire us and often become defining moments in our lives
In June 2013 our area was devastated by the Alberta Floods. Unnamed men, women and children from close by and far away came to aid in the cycle of rescue, recovery, repair, rebuilding and restoration. Relationships formed during those dark days continue to thrive. Six months later news stories continue to document compassion and assistance for those lives devastated by the disaster. It defines who we are and what we are becoming.
The Christmas carol "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" was first published in 1833. The lyrics to this simple carol are reputed to be one of the oldest carols dating back to the 15th century. One of the most famous lines of the carol is the chorus ‘Oh Tidings of Comfort and Joy’. It is believed that this particular carol with the chorus was sung to the gentry by town watchmen who earned additional money during the Christmas season. Anonymous workmen bringing the good news of Immanuel to others. Everyday Heroes!
Hebrews 11 is a chapter that teaches us powerfully about faith and everyday heroes. For thirty five verses we read about the big names and the unknown names who were heroes. They walked by faith sometimes for years and saw God act in many ways. Then we come to verse 36 of Hebrews 11. It begins with the words ‘still others’. ‘Still others were tortured, beaten, chained, mocked, imprisoned or died by stoning. Some were sawed in half. Some went around wearing animal skins, were destitute, oppressed and mistreated’.
These all earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. They were ‘those of whom the world was not worthy’ (verse 38). They were everyday heroes. They walked in faith and trust in perilous times. Joseph was one of the ‘still others’.
Joseph was a good man. He was betrothed to a young girl called Mary. In those days betrothal was as legally binding as marriage and could only be broken by divorce. Jewish law stated that Mary should have been stoned to death. Joseph, being a good man, didn’t report her, and didn’t want to disgrace her publicly. He decided to break the engagement quietly; to divorce her.
Joseph heard God. Mary and Zechariah both had visits and conversations with angels. The wise men followed a new star. The shepherds saw myriads of angels and the radiance of the glory of God. Joseph just had dreams. In the first dream he was told to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel in the dream repeated the information real angels had communicated to Mary.
In my opinion an angelic visitation outweighs a dream about an angel a hundred times over. Was the dream just a reflection of what Joseph wanted to believe? In his hurt and devastation had his subconscious just made it up? Joseph was obedient. Tradition and astronomy indicates that the wise men came up to two years after the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had probably settled down in Bethlehem. Maybe Joseph had opened another carpenter shop. They were far away from the wagging tongues and rumours about an illegitimate child.
Joseph had another dream. “Pack up, leave your country; your culture and go to Egypt” said the angel. What was his response? Instant obedience! I would love to have heard the conversation between Joseph and Mary as they packed up, leaving their home, friends and community once again. Their destination, Egypt was definitely not on the Jewish favorite places list. And yet off they went.
Joseph is an everyday hero. He had faith. He obeyed. He led his family. He took responsibility. He died before Jesus triumphed over the enemy on the cross. He never saw the fulfillment of the promise. Joseph is a hero because he believed God spoke in a dream and all of history and all of eternity was changed forever.
Heroes are heroes because they act instinctively. They act quickly. They have hearts that trust. They don’t debate the issues. They hear God. They believe God and like Abraham it is ‘credited to them as righteousness’. The purposes of the Father established before the foundation of the earth are kept in motion by heroes of faith. Ordinary people like you and I are God’s ‘Everyday Heroes’.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the ‘Everyday Heroes’ in my life. Thank You that I am one of the ‘still others’. Help me to discern Your voice. Inspire me to obey in the ordinary days of life. May I walk in simple trust. Father, I believe You. Amen.
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