A couple of weeks ago my childhood hero died. I have wanted to talk about heroes ever since, but somehow didn't know where it was leading. Now I do.
Ernie Banks, "Mr. Cub", was my hero since I was 9 years old. I watched him play, I saw his smile, and I knew his love for people and for the game of baseball. His famous line, often said at the beginning of a game, was "Let's play two!" He was a superstar before there were superstars. And yet he would sign autographs for the kids crowded around him for hours...for free!
Even though I bought my Ernie Banks autographed baseball many years later, it is a special reminder of a childhood filled with hope. Every year I would wait expectantly for the edict to come from Ernie. "The Cubs are great in '68!" "The Cubs will shine in '69!"
When Ernie Banks died at the age of 83, I was sad.
But I realized driving home through bright sunshine and snow, that I had just discovered a new hero.
Helen had been coming to the nursing home church services for the past year. She always had a smile on her face, and she loved to sing praises to Jesus. When Helen listened to God's Word, her eyes would light up with joy.
Helen wasn't at the church service. As we were leaving, a nurse told us that she had fallen and broken her hip. Would we please go and see her?
Helen was in obvious pain, even though she said she was on enough medication to make her confused at times. When asked if we could sing with her, she asked to sing "Jesus Loves Me." We sang, and she tried to move her mouth with the words. Then she smiled. We reminded her that Jesus truly does love her, and she said that she loved Him, too.
Helen may not be here long. Some day she will see Jesus face to face. Her faith, her love for her Lord, and her smile while walking through the valley reminds me of the sun shining through a snow storm.
Who is your hero. Of course, Jesus is the only true hero. The One who gave His life for us, rose again and calls us to Himself forever cannot be compared to.
But who do you admire? Do you spend your time praising those whose goal is only to build their empire of accomplishments on this earth? Or do you learn from those who build God's kingdom, stockpiling treasure in heaven?
The Apostle Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:13, "Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.