I was speaking to a group of aspiring writers this week and decided to start with a group exercise. I asked them all to stand and count to forty-nine with me. They joined me in shouting out the numbers even though they had no idea why I asked them to do this. As they sat down, I told them about an author I had just met the day before who had written eight books and was now a prominent journalist. He told me that his first book got forty-nine rejections and it was not until the fiftieth try that he finally got a book deal. For most of us getting ten rejection letters would be hard. Getting forty-nine would be almost unbearable. Pushing through to send that fiftieth proposal takes a special kind of perseverance. Solomon is that kind of person. Life had already thrown him a number of curve balls long before he sent the first query letter. Nothing was going to stop him from accomplishing his writing dream even though it took six years to get there. This kind of commitment is truly heroic.
Everyone has their own special people that they look up to. It could be a favorite teacher, an influential pastor or just a good friend. On Monday, I got to celebrate the lives of my personal heroes – my mom and dad. They were completing forty-nine years of service in our ministry and fifty of their best friends were in attendance to celebrate the occasion. My brother even flew in from Panama to surprise them and boy was it a surprise. When my mom first saw him she shouted so loud that I nearly lost my hearing. I was so glad to be able to capture the moment on video. In a great irony, God had another challenge in store for them right around the corner. The very night after the party, my mom got food poisoning and a really bad stomach bug. It turned out to be so bad, that she ended up in the hospital where I am sitting by her side today. It is at moments like this that I admire my parents the most. My Dad has been at my mom’s side nearly the entire time and they are both trusting God in the same way that they have done their entire lives.
Some acts of heroism take a life time, some happen over years and some happen in moments. Many of the most memorable happen because something went wrong and someone needs to change the status quo. David Terry became one of my heroes this week. One of our local churches had an important event happening today (Saturday) and needed two hundred books. The order was placed and we assumed that the books were on their way. Unfortunately there was a technology glitch and our sales rep never got the order. By the time that we figured all this out, it was too late to get the books by any normal method of shipping and it looked like we were going to have to disappoint this church. David did not let that happen. He flew to the publisher in Grand Rapids, flew to Philadelphia and delivered our books on the same day, just in time for the big event. You read that right – instead of making excuses or apologizing for the problem, he decided to solve the problem himself. Who does something like that in 2016 – apparently David Terry does. The next time I am tempted to make excuses myself or simply apologize, I will remember that heroes find solutions.
As I look to the future, I am glad to know that not all heroes are in comic books or movies. Some of them are in real life too. I hope that I may be able to persevere, trust God and find ways to change the status quo in people’s lives too. Not that I will ever be a hero, but maybe I can inspire others to pursue their dreams, to live lives of real meaning and to find hope in Jesus who is the one true hero.