It’s Vacation Bible School week at the church I minister with, which means that everything is twice as busy, twice as messy, and twice as stressful as usual. Children of all ages are running around, doing crafts, singing songs, and learning about some of the heroes of the faith from staff that are dressed like, well, superheroes.
I love our theme. I do. I have read and owned more than my fair share of comic books. I liked Spiderman before Tobey Maguire made him cool, and I liked Batman when Adam West was the only guy known for playing the the part. And I think it’s great that kids are learning about real life Bible heroes who overcame incredible odds to see God’s will done. We all celebrate when David beats Goliath, or when Gideon leads an army of 300 to victory. Esther captures our imagination when she alone stands between a king and the genocide of her people. Moses thrills us as he boldly demands of Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”
If you’re like me, you have read these stories, and have placed yourself in the shoes of these characters. We want to have the bravery of David, the faith of Gideon, the selflessness of Esther, or the boldness of Moses. I grew up in church hearing about these great examples of faith and how we should embody their positive qualities.
But the reality is, we are not the hero of our own story. Often we are the Israelites hiding in their tents; the soldier sent home; the slave wondering if we will ever be set free from the chains that bind us. Seldom, if ever, are we the hero. If anything, being told to be more like David or Moses or whoever, puts a burden on us that we know we can’t carry.
So we stop trying.
I’ve been there. I can’t beat the giant in front of me, so I surrender. I can’t shake off my shackles, so I submit to them. I’m not one of the “300” chosen to succeed, so I accept failure as normal. I’m not the hero.
But I was never meant to be.
There’s a part of the story of David and Goliath that seldom gets taught. It gets overlooked, ignored and neglected. It’s not “kid-friendly” so we don’t teach it to our children. It’s the part that occurs after David kills the giant from Gath. I Samuel 17 records that all of the army of Israel, emboldened by the boy-who-would-be-king decapitating Goliath, pursued the Philistines and killed them from the battlefield to their hometown. The men who were frozen by fear in their tents became a fierce fighting force.
I think that is a more accurate picture of most of us. We’re not called to be the hero. Jesus is our hero. We’re not meant to be the king. Jesus is our king. We are called to follow our king into battle; our king who is the hero; our king who fights with us and for us; our king who loosens the fetters of our sins, and promises to walk with us in a newness of life. Even David acknowledged it was God that brought victory that day.
So the next time you feel underqualified to be a hero, it’s okay. You are not the hero of your own story, and that is a reality that is absolutely liberating, because the burden of saving yourself is too heavy to carry. We have a hero who not only rescues us, but enables us to live victoriously.
King Jesus. Our hero. The only hero we have. The only hero we need.