Why Our Kids Still Need Heroes (and us too) | Marvelous Mundane

A train rattled across the dark countryside of the Netherlands, that day in 1944. Inside the crowded cattle-cars, women held each other and clung to whispered hopes. Hope that they were headed to freedom, to happy reunions, to familiar homes. When the train stopped, and the doors opened, all those hopes vanished. They were not any closer to freedom; rather they were about to enter a living hell. Instead of a warm welcome from loved ones, their welcome was a display of the depravity they were moving into, an example of the pain they would experience if they toed the line, if they moved too slowly, if they questioned authority- or simply for existing.

Corie ten Boom was on that train, riding into the unknown with her older sister Betsie. They had spent their entire lives in the Netherlands, and after the Nazi’s had invaded their beautiful country, their family had opened their home to the unwanted, the chased down, the turned away. Just days earlier, these sheltered people had stumbled up the stairs, barely squeezing into the hidden room built into the Ten Boom’s crooked old house, before harsh words and hatred invaded their home on the backs of Nazi soldiers. While their “hidden treasures” had not been found, accusations were enough, and the family was carted away.

As they watched the horror in front of them, Corie turned to Betsie, and caught her breath. When everyone around had looks of horror and despair, Betsie’s face was different; almost glowing. What could have come over her sister? Betsie turned to Corie, “Corie, look. Look at all the people who need to know God’s love!”.

And Corie, in complete disbelief, saw that her sister was not just seeing the hurting prisoners in front of them, but the hardened prison guards too.

And while Corie lived through the dark days of horrible evils, released from that hell on earth by a clerical error, days before the women her age were executed, Betsie’s earth story ended at a Nazi camp. But in a way, her story never ended, because her story was passed on through the lives they touched there. Because while they dreamed of freedom and peace, they lived out the love and light and power of God right where they were.

This story has stayed in my heart and mind since I heard Corie ten Boom on the radio years ago. It hangs there as a reminder of the presence and power of God even in the most of awful stories, the stories we would never chose for ourselves. Because in the midst of one of the most painfully clear examples of the depravity and darkness in mankind, is a glimmer of a God who has not, and will never, abandon His people.

It is the reminder that the presence of God in us, the reach of God to us, the power of God through us, IS our greatest good and His greatest gift.

And there is nothing, nothing, in all of creation that can touch that.

And while I would never choose to walk into those darkest stories, I can remember that whatever unknowns will be a part of my story, the greatest gift can never be taken away.

I know that because I have seen it; because of the stories.

These heroes show us that light cannot be covered, that truth cannot be silenced by hatred and deceit and lies, that while we agonize over the co-existance of beauty and evil, we are never alone.

Heroes remind us that every single life matters; that your story is not done.

Heroes remind us that the meaning of life is found in sacrifice.

Heroes remind us to lean deep into the life in front of us; that living fully in the ordinary prepares us for the unexpected extraordinary.

Heroes remind us there is redemption; that our greatest weaknesses and pains often turn into our greatest opportunity.

And so many heroes, we will never know. Their stories will never be a best-selling book, a well-known movie, a television-appearance. Because fame is not what makes a hero a hero.  

A hero is a broken, hurting, wondering person who runs back again and again to the arms of God. Who keeps talking the next step, falling back, taking the next step, and then the next, because the glory and power and words of God keep pushing them on.

We don’t read hero stories hoping for our moment in the limelight. We read hero stories to remind us that the greatest hero story was God’s work to us, for us, in us, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.