By Chester Mitchell
(Wanted: Ordinary Heroes)
I didn’t see any dragons here. Plenty of snakes on the way over here, though. —Oscar Wilde, in Here Be Dragons
If they longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place (Hebrews 11:15-16—NLT).
When Christopher Columbus set sail to find the New World, great uncertainty lay ahead. In the map’s margins, the mapmakers had ominously written, “Here lie dragons and wild beasts.” No one had ever been “here,” and thus over time, legend had become reality and that false reality ruled with savage uncertainty. World explorers like Columbus knew that if they were going to make discoveries, they would have to have courage and step into the vast unknown and uncharted spaces of the world.
Walking with God isn’t solely about certainty. It involves uncertainty the people of the Bible whom we call “heroes” weren’t certain of everything—but they acted on what they knew to be certain and they allowed God to take them to places they’d never been.
They were certain about God’s character. They were certain about God’s commitment to His Word. And they were certain about His power. Once those things were established, they allowed God to chart a course for their lives—a journey into the unknown.
We often hear the stories of great Christians like Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Wilberforce, Corrie Ten Boom and Dr. Martin Luther King, and deep down in our hearts we wonder if we have what they possessed. The fact of the matter is, they probably wondered the same thing about themselves. The difference between those who do and those who don’t rarely has much to do with the traits we consider must-haves. In fact, the word used most often to describe the people we label “heroes” is ordinary.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was simply ordinary—nothing about her would have set her apart from the thousands of virgin girls in her community. What made her special was the fact that God invited her to play a role in the revelation of his greatest gift to the world. Ordinary is the vessel into which God most often pours His greatest power. Consider the words of 1 Corinthians:
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of the ‘the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hallow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’ That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God (1 Corinthians 1:26-29—The Message).
When we consider the varied characters of the Bible who were instruments in the divine drama that began in the book of Genesis and concludes in the book of Revelation, we quickly understand that for all the things that were different about them, one thing bound them together: None of them allowed their relationship with God and, ultimately, their “divine assignment” to go unfulfilled because they lacked the facts.