My weakened eyesight makes it difficult to follow team sport. As a result, I’d be hard-pressed to name even one name on any of my city’s sports rosters. I also wasn’t your typical teenaged girl who had teen idol posters plastered on her walls. Batman, Robin, and the Lone Ranger were the heroes of my brothers; they were not for me. As an avid reader, I did have favourite fictional characters. However, I made no conscious decision to model my life after their actions.
While I have great respect for Christian icons such as Mother Teresa, John Wimber, Bill Johnson, Billy Graham, and Elisabeth Elliot, I don’t consider them my personal heroes. A personal hero by definition, to me at least, is someone who I have personally witnessed living a consistent sacrificial life.
The heroes of my faith have never made the headlines, they are not authors of inspirational books, and they’ve never been keynote speakers at Christian conventions. They have no trophies or awards in display cases, and for the most part, they live within a modest budget. Not one is a brilliant inventor. None of them gained international recognition for their creative skills. However, each earned my admiration and respect, and I make a conscious decision to model my life after them.
“We do not very often come across opportunities for exercising strength, magnanimity, or magnificence; but gentleness, temperance, modesty, and humility, are graces which ought to colour everything we do. There may be virtues of a more exalted mould, but… these are the most continually called for in daily life.” Francis de Sales
Frank Elmer was one such role model. We attended the same church for several years. A retired farmer, Frank moved into the city to help his daughter raise her children as she was a single mother. His old-fashioned gracious manners and genuine warmth extended not just to his church family but also to visitors. He’d be the first to shake hands with newcomers. Carefully taking note of their names, he would greet them as old friends the next time he saw them. Frank got down on the level of the small children, and I’d often see him sitting cross-legged on a rug, having a friendly conversation with a toddler.
Most Sundays, Frank was one of the first to arrive at church and one of the last to leave. Shoveling snow, sweeping the floors, taking the offering when the assigned teams were short-handed, his life breathed the example of a servant-heart. Although circumstances called Frank away from our congregation, his influence remained. When a newcomer sat near me at church, I swallowed my natural reticence of approaching strangers and greeted them with a smile. Although my handshake might not be as firm as Frank’s; I hope I extended to them the same unconditional love and acceptance Frank gave me.
Frank passed away several years ago and although I miss him, I know that there are others who bear the same uncanny resemblance to their Father God. I recognize them everywhere. They carry the same heart that Frank carried; the heart of Jesus. They truly are the heroes of my faith.
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All Bible verses, unless otherwise attributed, are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Until Next Week
©2017 Katherine Walden
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