My Hero. Me?

by DanWolgemuth on March 26, 2021

As a young boy, I grew up with a deep connection to the Chicago Cubs. It was daytime drama at Wrigley Field. No lights. No night games. WGN. A perfect solution for a little boy with an early bedtime.

Soon, I was imagining scenarios. Building epic moments. Constructing outrageous hometown predicaments that only I could solve.

Thoughts like this pushed me out the backdoor of our home at 103 East Park, with a baseball mitt, a bat, and a tennis ball. Hours and hours, I would throw the ball against the side of our house as my dreams became flesh. Diving catches. Perfectly placed pitches. A self-toss and a whack of the bat for a timely home run.

Hometown hero born… Me!

The bottom of the 9th was no match for me… an undersized little boy, with an oversized dream.

But boyhood fantasies can birth a posture in life that can be misinformed. A heroic dream. An overestimation… not of athletic prowess, but of character quality.

A well-constructed and underinformed character posture can tilt the balance of perspective in a direction that often distorts reality. That germinates overconfidence and self-reliance.

Such a posture invites me to read a story like the Good Samaritan, and to project myself as the hero. The Samaritan. Courageous. Selfless. Generous.

I become the faithful servant that invests his talents and produces ten-fold the results. Bold. Wise. Shrewd.

When I read God’s Word… I’m afraid that I misunderstand and misrepresent who I am, which in turn, undervalues who Jesus is, and what He has done for me.

This is Satan’s ploy. His scheme. His whisper in my wanting ear. “He needs you, more than you need Him.” Lies.

A reality check reveals the fact that not only am I not the hero… and not even the victim… in many cases I might well be the villain in these stories.

I find myself, like Peter, looking in the face of Jesus and saying… “Not me”. “I’ll never walk away.” “Maybe these other Bozo’s will, but you can count on me.” Yes, the bases are loaded in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, and the Cubs are down by three runs… but be of good cheer, I have the bat in my hands. Good news… it’s me. “Jesus, I’ve got this!”

But Peter folds.

Peter caves.

Peter denies.

And I’m afraid that if I don’t read the story of Peter with an understanding that this would have been me, I miss a critical aspect of my own sinfulness and God’s abundant grace.

It isn’t until the tears of reality flow, just like they did down the cheeks of Peter, that I become what Jesus requires me to become… dead to myself. Broken beyond repair. Desperate. The bum, not the hero.

Not for the sake of shame, but for the joy of grace. Not for the weight of guilt, but the freedom of mercy. Not for the burden of sin, but for the liberation of love.  

The spotlight shifts away from a trophy case and onto a cross.

My sin. His price.

Villain. Hero.

Lost. Found.

Dead. Alive.

I’ve come to realize that I need to reread many of my beloved Gospel stories with a course correction in mind.

I am the reckless younger son. I am the judgmental older brother. I am the Levite, or the Scribe, or even the thief. I am a Pharisee. I am the Apostle who stands by a fire and caves under the pressure.

I am no hero. Then or now.

And this stark and difficult reality makes me ever so grateful for a Savior… my hero. My King.

He. Not me.

Jesus. The King of the Jews.

Jesus. Lord of all.

Yes, Jesus in the bottom of the 9th. Then and now.

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