God Changes the Ordinary into Heroes!

Hello Hump Day readers. The other night I watched 60 Minutes, one of my favorite shows. Scott Pelley is a man of integrity and of faith. I have always liked his honesty and factual reporting. This episode was about heroes, those given the Carnegie Award for heroism and bravery. It was a powerful episode that, for me, bridged right into June 6 – D-Day, a day that many have considered one of America’s finest hour.

Talk about ordinary young men turned into heroes-wow! My dad, not quite 18 (he lied to get into the service) was on one of those boats that landed on Omaha beach-head. He was one of the few who made it. Dad didn’t talk about it much. He was a sniper, but his sniper guns went before him, so at 5’ 5” they gave him a bazooka—and he about drowned getting off that boat, let alone being under enemy fire. Dad then went on to France, in Patton’s 3rd Army. His company was the Cross of Lorraine, and they saved many people in many small villages. Dad also worked as a camp liberator. I guess when you’re a sniper you are in demand.

For a few months a journalist was embedded with my dad’s company. Their next stop was the little village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. The journalist wrote “there is something different about this little town and I learned why—they hid their Jews from the Nazis, knowing if they were caught, they would all be killed.” He was intrigued about these heroes who would risk everything for the lives of others—even those they didn’t know. And he was floored to find that these folks weren’t particularly smart or brave, and they easily admitted it. “Then why are you doing this?” he asked them and their answer set him back: “Oh sir, we are faithful believers in Christ. Our pastor has told us that this means we must love and take care of one another-like John 15. So that is what we are doing.” Those words were a turning point in the spiritual life of this journalist, just as their compassion was for the hunted-Jews.

As my dad’s company left this little town, the journalist wanted to know why they told him John 15. One elderly lady said, “you do not know your Bible?” Look up John 15, you will find out why. The journalist asked the chaplain in the company for the passage. He easily replied:

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

-John 15:12-13

The journalist thought back to his early Sunday School days, and he indeed remembered those words. In the midst of war, where he was seeing the worst in humanity, he saw the best of humanity and that passage never left his heart. He shared it right up to his deathbed.

So, when we think about the word “hero” today, what comes to your mind? In the 60 Minutes program, it was repeatedly stated that most heroes are astonishingly ordinary. They are simply people who see a need and do what God would have them do to respond, just like the folks in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. For me, it’s my dad, a highly decorated Buck Private who would never say he was a hero—he would say “it was all of us” – and he lived that ideal every day of his life.

If we could shed the Hollywood version of heroes, and look at the folks in the humble village, I think our ideas of heroism would change. We could more easily say “God, you take control of my life and use me—like you did those folks in France.”

It’s a big step to give up control, but truly, that is what a hero is—one who gives up even their very lives to help another. Their control is not for them, but to take control of a situation that is hurting someone else. We would do well to embrace the simple faith of the folks in that village and say, “Jesus tells us to do this so that is what we are going to do.”

Mother Teresa once said, “life can be so difficult, but if you just simply respond to the Spirit of God, there is no limit to what God can do for others through you.” I bet no one every thought a little nun in an obscure abject-poverty country, had the heroism to make a difference…but she did…and my dad did—the men in his company did—peasant farmers in a little village in France did…and so many more.

Let God take control over your life and you can add your heroism to the long list of other every-day-ordinary-heroic people—AMEN!