I’ve been thinking lately about who my heroes have been and how they may have impacted my life. Here are five of them:
Of Bible fame. He was my first hero. He was a kid who slew a giant. His life said to me a number of things. First, kids matter and can make a difference. Second, size doesn’t matter. Third, enemies are beatable. Fourth, power comes from God. Years later when I became a young man, his sin with Bathsheba became important to me. If this great man of God could fail, then so could I. Beware!
He was coach of the Dallas Cowboys from when I was age five or six until I was a man of about 35. He was a Christian, and his faith seemed to really be important to him, not in an outspoken and obnoxious way but in a quiet and determined fashion. Landry was solid, dependable, and good. He also won.
Another Christian of great moral strength, but he was different from Landry. He “scrambled” from the pocket when passing and made things happen that were not necessarily planned. The main thing Staubach taught me was that you never give up, even when things are looking bleak. He was best at the end of games when a comeback was needed. But back to his Christianity; he was a Catholic. This may be why I never looked down on Catholics as many non-Catholics did at the time. Landry was a Methodist and Staubach was a Catholic. For me, a Baptist, this said something profound–Baptists were not the end-all and be-all of Christianity, and in the 1960s and ’70s denominations were still important.
C. S. Lewis
I bought my first C. S. Lewis book in the summer of 1976 in Kingsville, Texas. I may have actually bought it in nearby Corpus Christi. I was a summer missionary, and my partner and me were at a small store, possibly in a mall. I had heard of Lewis, so when I saw a small paperback of Perelandra, it captured my attention. Perelandra is the second of the three books in Lewis’ space trilogy. I looked for the first one on the small rack of books but didn’t see it so I bought Perelandra. It was probably good that I started with Perelandra because it is better than the first book in the series, which I later read. Perelandra opened a world of creativity and thought for me. It is hard to overstate how important C. S. Lewis has been to me, and it started with Perelandra. That book and Lewis changed my life. I was not so alone as I had thought.
I add my dad as a fifth hero, but he is different from the others. In fact, he is quite different from me. My dad is a genius at doing physical things; I am not. He is now age 87, and he still amazes me. He grumbles about what he cannot do around his small cattle ranch, but it is fascinating to watch him utilize different methods and approaches to accomplish tasks that have become physically difficult for him. He was an excellent athlete in his youth, gifted as a sheet metal worker, and industrious as a cattleman. His excellence in such matters did make it hard for me to be his son at times. I simply could do nothing as well as he could. It took me years to realize that his proficiency was with his body and mine was with my mind. This does not mean I am smarter than him; that may or may not be the case. The difference is that the life of his mind has always expressed itself in physical ways while my mind has been geared to reading, writing, and more abstract ways of thinking. With all of that stated, I can simply say that my dad is a hero in that he has always been a good man who loved God and his family. In those ways, I can still hope to be like him.