This is Balla the dog. On several occasions, she has been known to sprout pretend wings and soar around the house helping those in need. "To the rescue!" the child I nanny shouts, and then off they go to rescue some other toy or pet who appears to be in grave peril.
Yesterday, the preschooler I nanny was talking about their heroes. The child's mother was listed in the number one spot, "because she helps people, and that's what heroes do". This woman is a wise, gifted, naturopathic doctor, and she does help a lot of people. I agree. She is a hero!
A short while later, the child also said that I was a hero, too, because I help the child. I am very blessed to have such affirmation given in my job without request! What a gift this child's simple observation was for me.
In this season of my life, I am in the process of finding my place in this world, looking for opportunities to be Christ for the people around me. During this search, I am reminded that by simply doing the things I love, (teaching, praying, baking, art, writing, music-making) I am already offering hope and joy to the people and the world around me.
We all need heroes. Most zombie fans have one or two that we gravitate towards. One of my favorites is Ash in the Evil Dead series. Always chasing off the undead hoarde, Ash brings dry humor, a peculiar charm, and a bit of semi-visible softness to the protagonist role. Of course, if you've read some of my previous posts, you may also know that I'm also drawn to the zombie named Fido, and the family that loves him.
Living, dead or in-between, our heroes help us to see aspects of ourselves that might otherwise go unnoticed. They help us to grow and give us courage to become the people we are called to be. When the child I nanny said that their mother and I were heroes, I was brought back to my childhood. Reflecting on the people I have always been drawn to, my life heroes, is very helpful in the discernment of my calling/purpose.
When I was about six years old, I remember saying "when I grow up, I want to be a doctor or a pastor; I want to help people". Just a few years later, I focused in on the pastoral role and have been pursuing this pathway ever since. I believe that Jesus is the One who will ultimately make all things new. Sharing that message of hope for an anguished world is the best way I know of to help.
In the last few years, my eyes have opened up to many different avenues for ministry in the world. Holding the title "pastor" is one way of doing ministry, but being pastoral in nature does not necessarily mean that a person will receive a paycheck from a church. The broadening of my horizons has come through a variety of people and pathways including the children I have cared for over the years, the ever-widening array of worship services I have the joy of participating, and my non-Christian friends and collegues. Most influential, however, have been my mentors in college and, now, the mentors at the seminary I attend. Even today, one of my mentors helped me to gain perspective on the pathway I have taken thus far in order to prepare for the path ahead. Now that I have become like my childhood heroes, being a gentle and compassionate pastoral leader who desires to heal the world, the question remains: what will I do with it all?
I have a few different ideas as to the ministry (or ministries) into which the Lord is calling me, but I'm still doing some discernment. As I continue along this pathway of life, though, I am very glad to have someone who looks up to me and tells me that I'm already doing what I felt called to in the first place. I'm already a servant of Christ and a helper of humanity.
Who were your childhood heroes? Who are your heroes today? Hearing how they've influenced you or encouraged you might be just the lighty they need today. Reflecting on how you have grown to become more like them may help you discern your own calling. How has the Lord already equipped you to serve in the world, and how can you continue to grow?
I pray that we all will grow deeper in our understanding of the gospel, particularly in the knowledge that we have a loving and compassionate God who is working to heal and renew the world around us. Then, I pray that we work together to share the light and life and hope of Christ through our everyday lives. May the Spirit of Life encourage and empower us to live up to our full potential as living members of the body of Christ.
As I remember Your dear servant and my first Sunday school teacher who just passed into the coming glory this week, I offer thanks for the gift of her life. She was a brilliant light and giver of hope for many. I am thankful that, like her, I have opportunities to share Your light and life with the people and world around me. Thank You for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds and encourages us everyday. Help us to do the same for the people we encounter during this lifetime. Help us to bring new life to Your world-wide Church in all generations. Let us become heroes for others by serving You and loving them.
In Jesus' name, amen.