Everybody loves a hero. From white knights to Spiderman, Wonder Woman, and firemen – we all adore larger-than-life figures. Hero is a timeless concept, a word chiseled in stone and swathed in red, white, and blue. It evokes images of dashing figures and just-in-time deliverance.
A hero is someone we can believe in, lean on, and trust with our lives and sacred honor. A hero is always there.
My hero is the Lord Jesus. He’s the only person who ever lived a life that was absolutely unsoiled, perfectly gentle, and truly wise. He has never left me forsaken on the railroad tracks of life as the inevitable wheels of death came charging down the rails- although I’ve squirmed a few times as I heard the rumble of disaster approaching. But He’s always arrived…just in time… every time.
He’s big. He’s strong. He’s amazing. He’s the royalty that bends down to pick up the peasant. He’s my King, and He never tires of riding out on the white horse to swoop me up out of my latest fall into some messy pit.
But life for us is not about being the eternal damsel in distress. God has saved us for a purpose:
He calls us to follow Him. He commands us to take on the nature of His Kingdom. He calls us to purity, wisdom, discernment, and courageous action.
He calls us to a life of heroic deeds.
Rise to the challenge. Live like you belong in the Kingdom. Be someone’s hero today.
There are two wolves inside us.
The one we feed is the one that will grow. -Native American proverb
The attacks came without warning, one after another. These last months our family has been reeling from a series of setbacks we never anticipated. Problems we didn’t cause and can’t fix.
Yesterday was so bad I just had to escape from the phone and the stress and the numbness shredding my soul. I bolted down the driveway and glanced around, remembering to check for snakes and the coyotes that had been calling this morning up the dry canyon above our house. Occasionally they wander all the way down to the yard looking for wayward scraps or cats.
Usually I alternate between anger and pity for them. Anger when they kill our animals. Pity when the summer is hot and barren and they comb the hillside in mangy coats looking for food.
Yesterday I envied them.
I wanted to flee up the canyon wall far away from humans and their struggles, to find a way out. I needed escape. I wanted to release the fear and the anger and the helplessness.
Actually, I wanted to howl.
Instead, I walked for a bit and returned to the house. Our family circled the wagons, as is our habit when new challenges threaten one or the other of us. We spent the evening together, drawing strength from each other as we enjoyed a meal and movie.
Today, the wolves are again at war. Today I halt between two opinions. Is disaster on the horizon? Or is God at work in a mysterious and mystical way?
Fear and Faith sit at my door. Both are ravenous. Will I feed one and allow myself to be consumed, or will I feed the one that will send the predator packing? Which one will I give my trust?
So it comes to this. I must choose to turn off the outside voices feeding the beast and give my mind permission to feed my starving soul on the goodness of God. This was surely what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote these words:
…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Dwell on what is good and holy. Frolic in the fruit of the Spirit. Reach for the joy set before you. Trust in a faithful Creator.
If you’re as hungry and dry as I am, pray with me:
Here I am, Lord. I’m dying on the inside. My enemy is too strong for me. Strengthen my faith; teach me how to trust You. Help me to close my ears to the voice of the predator. Give me eyes to see Your great power and love. Feed me.
It’s the dirty little secret churches don’t like to talk about: the Body of Christ doesn’t treat itself very well. Have you been hurt by Christians? Have you done or said something that hurt another believer? It doesn’t have to be this way. Click this link: Slightly Obsessed: Are You Killing Yourself? and take the step to a place of healing.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still.
He is called the “prince of the power of the air.”* He invades world events, rattles our physical world, and causes havoc in the hearts of men. We know him as the devil, or Satan. He always blows in bringing trouble for God’s creation.
It had been a particularly busy and productive time of ministry for Jesus, though danger lurked everywhere. Many were healed and heard the Good News. But His cousin had recently been beheaded by the king. It seemed a storm was brewing.
“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile,” He told His disciples. They took a boat across the Sea of Galilee to find a quiet place.
The crowd followed them, however, and were waiting for Him as their boat reached land. Although Jesus was bone-weary, He was filled with compassion at the sight of the people, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He spoke to them until it was very late, then He filled their empty bellies with a miracle dinner of five loaves of bread and two fish.
If He was tired before, He must have been exhausted by then.
He told the disciples to go on ahead of Him in the boat while He sent the crowd away. Then He went to the mountain to pray for awhile.
As Jesus prayed, a strong wind came up and threatened the boat and His disciples. It was nearly morning. The disciples were caught in the middle of the sea, buffeted by the winds, unable to reach safety.
In the dark, in the middle of a sea, Jesus saw them struggling. He came to them in their crisis; He met them in the storm. He didn’t have to join them. He had just miraculously produced enough food out of thin air to feed a crowd. He could have spoken the word from His mountain and calmed the waves.
Instead, He went to their side, walking on the storm as if were His personal highway. The disciples were terrified. Who was this man?
He told them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Only He did not actually say “It is I.” He said, literally, “I AM.”
I AM. The ancient name for the LORD God of Israel. The name given to Moses out of the burning bush. The Eternal God.
Are you weary of fighting the storm? Are you caught between destruction and the safe shore for which you long? Are you more certain of the strength of the evil one than you are of the Savior?
God sees you. His Son Jesus has conquered the winds and the waves that threaten to sweep you away. Even when His power was restrained by the constraints of a human body, Jesus commanded authority over every challenge raised against those He loved. Now at the right hand of the Father, He has released the awesome power of the Holy Spirit to fight for you.
You’re not alone. You won’t sink. Watch and trust Him to come to you and conquer your storm.
Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
The princesses are everywhere. Most grandparents in the United States have probably wandered through the bewildering array of Barbie royalty at some point in their search for that perfect gift. There are princess movies and princess jewelry and princess dresses and even the lady who gives the ultimate princess experience for birthday parties – complete with gowns, crowns, and portraits.
And we buy that stuff because we all love the fairy tales we learned as children. Who hasn’t dreamed of being a knight on a white horse or a beautiful lady waiting to be rescued? Who hasn’t looked at pictures of castles and imagined entering their own great stone hall?
Somewhere along the way, we grew up and learned life isn’t a fairy tale. Few men can measure up to the fantasy a young girl has of her knight in shining armor. And few women can pull off the perfect princess bride countenance. The truth is, we all live in a gritty, flawed world.
Though princes and princesses are rare, dragons abound. They come in all shapes and sizes and feed exceptionally well on human souls. They wear commonplace names that disguise their fearsome natures: Fear, Despair, Doubt, Disbelief, and Gluttony.
Some have darker names. But they all have one thing in common: They belong to a cold-blooded family of reptile called Sin. Fornicasaurus ona bigscreenacus is a large dragon that invades many unsuspecting homes. Hisnameacus vex is a pervasive monster. Some little ones, like Gossipin agroupus, seem harmless enough but have sharp little teeth that cripple those unwary folks who step on them.
And there are more. Many more. They are legion.
It’s hard to make it through a day without encountering at least one of these creatures. Thankfully, we don’t have to live under their power, because there really are such things as kingdoms, kings, and happy endings. There is a King who sits on a throne and rules from one end of eternity to the other.
This King has a Son who wears many crowns and the name Prince of Peace. He’s good at slaying dragons, and He is available on call to slay ours.
Deliverance is as easy as calling on His name. There are, however, a few things He requires:
We have to belong to His kingdom. The reptile called Bondage will only fall under the sword of the Prince. No other weapon is sharp enough to kill our tormentors.
We have to actually want to escape. Some creatures are annoying but just too cute to kill. They remind us of the rescue dog we got from the shelter. We enjoy their company and comfort. We even feed them. We attempt to ignore the damage they cause and tell ourselves we’ll send them to obedience school one day.
We have to do our part. The King has forged powerful weapons to destroy our enemies, but He puts them into our hands to use. We need to learn how to swing that sword and aim the arrows to sink deep into the heart of the enemy. There can be no holding back in battle; this is no time to be squeamish. There will be blood.
We must have no pity on Sin. None should be spared, ever, to hide out in our hearts. As the little foxes ruin the vineyard (Song of Songs 2:15), so small sins ruin our lives.
Are you needing peace in the kingdom today? Start swinging your sword. Take out the torturer of your soul.
Resist. Submit. Rest. In proper order. To the right king.
One day, we will live happily ever after. Our Prince will return for those who love Him. Look up, and take heart. He is here. You are not fighting alone.
The Lord will deliver me from evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
2 Timothy 4:18
It was just a shopping day with her mother and eighteen-month-old daughter Laura. Linda was driving the car that fateful day after Christmas when an unguarded moment sent them careening into the path of a minivan at sixty miles an hour. The collision took off the back seat of their car.
Linda and her mother were dazed but okay. But little Laura’s car seat went flying out of the car on impact and landed in the middle of the freeway with Laura still buckled in. She was much too quiet.
At the hospital, Linda discovered Laura had suffered a devastating brain injury. She was sent to ICU, where she was wracked with seizures. Surgery relieved the swelling, but she remained unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator. Linda repelled the doctor’s suggestion they remove Laura from the ventilator, and when they had the opportunity to move her to a hospital closer to home, Linda was sure her daughter would begin to improve.
At the Colorado hospital, however, twenty-four health care professionals gave her an unanimous decision: Laura was in a vegetative state. She was given no hope for improvement.
Although Linda outwardly fought for her daughter to be kept on the ventilator, inwardly she was in turmoil. One desperate night she made plans to take Laura off the ventilator and overdose herself on pills to end their suffering. As she contemplated this, she knew her actions would also be taking the life of her unborn child, barely two weeks old.
Thankfully, her reason returned before she acted on her impulse. She went to sleep that night terrified of her own dark thoughts and the knowledge she had almost acted on them.
That moment signaled a turning point for the Shepherd family. Linda surrendered her life and the lives of her children once again to God. Laura stayed the same until, ironically, she awakened from her coma one day at the sound of her new baby brother crying.
Today Laura remains paralyzed and on a ventilator. But she smiles and laughs and fills her family with joy. Her father Paul and brother Jimmy are her tender protectors. She has taught her world much about the value of those who are broken by the world’s standards, but beautiful beyond comparison in the eyes of God.
Linda is an author and speaker who shares the lessons God has taught her through their tragedy. The trials she has endured form the springboard from which she ministers the peace and healing she has received through her Savior.
Laura’s life is a reminder we are all broken in some way, and God loves all the imperfect vessels He calls His children.
Linda Evans Shepherd lives at home in Longmont, Colorado, with her husband and their two children, Jimmy and Laura.
Linda is an author and speaker, the publisher of Right To the Heart of Women Electronic Magazine and president of the nonprofit organization, Right to the Heart.
Do you know a very special family that personifies the word “unstoppable?” Can you think of someone that has taken on the challenge of disability or chronic disease and turned it into a victory dance?
They are all around us, people who live with what others might think of as loss. They are people with incurable conditions, devastating disabilities, or birth defects. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, they have risen above their suffering to live fully. These people and their families have learned how to appreciate the beautiful in the broken. Trials are just bumps in the road for them
They are the everyday heroes.
They are unstoppable.
If you know a family that expresses the spirit of a victor, nominate them to be featured on this site in a future story. Just be sure to get their permission first. Then go to the contact page and send me their names and an e-mail address at which they can be contacted. I will never share their addresses, or yours, with anyone else.