I think that many of the opportunities we have to do the right thing – to “be heroic” – are those that we can’t plan for. We may have some idea of what our schedule will be for any given day, but often the chances to make a real difference come unexpectedly. When a friend, co-worker, or family member comes to us with a problem they are having, we have a choice: we can put down what we are doing and talk, or we can make excuses about being busy (or – with practice – just ignore them). If we see a stranger struggling with a big package in the parking lot of the grocery store, we have a choice: We can step in and make a difference, or we can head down another row with our head down, and pretend not to notice.
Jesus set a great example of this when people brought children to him.
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.
Matthew 19:13-15 NASB
It would have been easy for Him to dismiss the children (which is what his disciples seemed to have in mind), or just pronounce a general blessing on the whole group of them, and move on. Maybe the disciples figured that these children wouldn’t be of any immediate benefit to the cause, or maybe they didn’t want to wipe runny noses. Regardless, Jesus took that opportunity to not only bless the children, but to teach those around him an important lesson at the same time.
I realize that not every opportunity demands our action. We do have to make hard choices sometimes, and we can’t help everyone. My challenge to you – as it is to myself – is to look for opportunities, and to step up to make a difference more often. Ask God in the morning – as I sometimes do on the drive to work – to provide you with not only 1) the right combination of circumstances where you can make a difference, but also 2) the discernment to see them and the courage to act.
By doing so, you can be a hero.
See also Going Fishing.
A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com, as a Study Guide for the February 28, 2016 message, “Be Heroic”.