The truth about heroes

Jill and I have been fantasy and sci fi buffs since Asimov, LeGuinn, Omni Mag and other ways to date yourself.  We are a minority.  We thought the Postman short stories and even the movie were pretty cool.

We have noticed two things about heroes, and I needed to remind myself, and possibly you, about true heroes.

We noticed that heroes are increasingly, routinely, regularly expected to come back from the dead, have superpowers, run for days without rest performing at astonishing levels of tenacity and genius, and can fire guns, kick butts, and kill villains in endlessly creative ways.  And they are all deeply flawed, marred souls with insurmountable things to overcome.

Real heroes are a little harder to spot.  They blend in with our worlds for a very simple reason: they are the substance, the substrate on which our world has been constructed.  Real heroes are consistent.  I trust that they are the same person with me as with crowds, as in private.  You see, we build our homes and our lives from consistent, lasting, sustainable materials and relationships.  They are overcomers, but do it with an ineffable grace and pinache so you don’t even see them sweat.

Heroes are all flashy as bricks and mortar, 2×6 studs, great shingles, and insulation.  They make a safe, reliable, consistent shelter from the storm, lee against the winds, warmth against the nuclear winters the world creates.

Mike was one of my heroes and he left us unexpectedly on Friday morning.  So, now I have to go tell a couple of other heroes thanks for being there, thanks for being a friend — constant — because I didn’t say that to him when I almost did on a Sunday morning week before last.  And now I will have to wait to say it to him personally.

Could be you need to tell one or two of yours thanks as well.  Even the constant ones get yanked into eternity when you least expect it.

I am doing Mike’s funeral

When Keith, one of the pastors at LifeChurch, called to tell me that Sharon had asked for me to help at Mike’s  funeral on Tuesday, I did not hesitate.

I said yes.  Without having to think about it. Mike and I never went hunting, fishing, movies or bowling together.  He loved all of those and did them often.  He cooked on a local TV show, and he cooked for me once, on a retreat for 60  university students.  He didn’t drop by the house or my office at the university.  He never intruded where he wasn’t asked.  He came to our open houses, and was funny.  He possessed that sarcastic-tinged, pithy humor I treasure in others.

I said yes because it will be an honor.  And I owed him.  When I first became a pastor, I had some men running sound in the service who loved that church, loved the worship, and might miss a switch or two in the service.  Feedback or silence when you are speaking or preaching is SO distracting.  I wanted to add visuals in the worship, and that made the job more dicey.

Mike told me that he “noticed” that problem.  Now, in church work, many people notice everything that goes wrong or goes against their grain according to color, sound, whatever.  Some smile.  Some not so much, and then they walk away having served notice that I could do something about that, now that I had been enlightened.

When Mike “noticed” the sound challenges, he was saying something radically different.

He was saying, “I noticed your sound challenges.  You need something more consistent, and — I can do something about that.”  And he did.  For years.  When we added a second service and needed sound there as well.

When some products became available and the church needed to buy them, or they might just show up in the sound booth.

Equally important, Mike served notice when he was taking his boys hunting and fishing.  Hunting/fishing/sons was one term, and mike prioritized for them.  As a father, I took notes.

He never volunteered to teach or do a host of other jobs, but what he “noticed” he followed up to make it work. That also showed up in his wife and daughter.  They are amazing and accomplished in what they set their hands to do.  That showed up in his sons, they do very different jobs, but they approach those jobs with excellence — with consistency.  What they notice, they do well.

And all of them, like Mike, think that living out the gospel, living out your faith, serving when you “notice” something needs to be done, IS being a Christian.

So, when someone helped me “notice” that someone else might speak at Mike’s funeral, I smiled to myself, told the pastor “Absolutely” and swung by the house to see the family, because I can do something about that.