One of my best friends Rachel owns a t-shirt that I have always wanted to have. It says: “My parents told me that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up…so I decided to be a ninja.” If only that were a true profession! Forget my day job; I would go and fight bad guys all day long. As a kid I grew up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and dreamed of being a hero, defying the odds and saving the world from imminent danger. Why did I have to grow up?
And what about pirates? Who hasn’t wanted to set sail for the great unknown, fighting fierce battles and searching for great treasure? Granted, modern-day pirates show little respect for human life or dignity, but the stories that capture our imaginations and dreams are those told in movies and novels. Pirates are brave, driven, and rough around the edges. I know that I have fantasized about sword fights and cannon balls and longed to be a part of the action. In fact, a non-negotiable question I ask guys that I am serious about dating is this: if given the chance to be a pirate, would you do it? Arrrrgh…of course I would!
Yet real life is so boring. You get up in the morning, go to work, come home and eat dinner, and head for bed. Each day it is the same old thing. What is exciting about that? Maybe those fantasies as a child were just make-believe stories with a dead end wish. Who gets to be a hero in the real world?
What if it were possible for everyone to be a hero? Ninja or not, there are enemies to fight and injustices to reconcile. What about the foster care system that has eaten up hundreds upon thousands of children over the years? How many little ones fall through the cracks, unnoticed until they make front page headlines as serial killers or the obituaries as one-lined suicides? How many broken hearts have been forgotten in the crunching of numbers and the decisions made by officials who know nothing about their cases and who, quite frankly, don’t care? What would a hero do when faced with this situation? He wouldn’t bury his head in the sand, pretending that the heartache couldn’t touch him. He would run toward the broken, fight the system, and defend the cause of the helpless. And what about homelessness, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, human trafficking, mental illness, etc.?
Being a hero is not all about doing heroic things, however. A true hero embodies justice and courage in every decision, big or small. He models a life of integrity, knowing that his life is being observed by those around him. He coaches his kids’ soccer team, he frames his children’s pictures and puts them on the wall, he loves his wife faithfully, and he does the best he can do at his job. The world has seen its share of dictators and iron fisted leaders. The world needs to see more men and women who take the world head-on for good, trust God with a fierce passion, and never back down from the battles they are faced with. We would most likely be shocked to know how many lives we influence for good or bad every single day.
And like pirates, we are all instilled with an obsession for treasure. The Bible speaks of a man finding a pearl of great price. He buried the pearl in a field, sold everything he had, and bought the field. What if we gave our lives seeking the Kingdom of God, the ultimate pearl of great worth? What if we took the time to find that pearl in the lives and hearts of those we see every day, who are so near and dear in our lives? Inside every heart is a treasure, and some treasure is buried deeper than others. Will you take the time to really know those around you? Will you sail the raging waters of their fear and doubt? Will you pull them into the safety of your pirate ship? Will you pillage the ranks of Satan for all who are held in bondage within his grasp? What greater definition of a hero is there in this life?
As a society, we are slowly teaching our children that heroes do not exist. It may be true that they will not grow up to be a ninja or a pirate, but the thirst of God’s grand adventure still remains. It lies within all of our hearts, waiting to be awakened. I am reminded of the scene in Prince Caspian when Aslan roars ferociously into the air and the trees awaken from their slumber. Just as Aslan was not a tame lion, we serve a God that is in every way wild and unsafe. Simply spend some time in nature and you will begin to understand that God’s Spirit draws us into the wilderness where his ferocity can capture and awaken our hearts. We were never meant to settle down and shut down our imaginations. God calls us to a life of adventure. He calls us to be heroes.
Every single person is called to be a hero, a warrior in the great adventure of life. What is it that has captured your imagination? What injustice sets your heart to boil? Stop asking yourself if you have the courage to step out and fight. Instead, ask God for the strength to sustain you throughout the battle. Movies may inspire us, but real life is more fantastic than a simple screenplay created by Hollywood writers and producers. Real life is so much deeper and higher, longer and wider. Don’t let fear hold you back from being the hero you were created to be. Satan be warned: the ninjas and pirates are coming!