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Friday, October 14, 2011

Heroes: Fictional, Past, and Future

I've been reading a story about a bunch of monsters.

Well, technically, I wasn't reading it; I was listening to an audiobook. And technically, it's not about the monsters; it just has a lot of monsters in it. It's called The Lost Hero, and it's the first book in the second series of books about Percy Jackson.

Well, technically, Percy Jackson's not even in it, so I guess it's not about Percy Jackson, either.

Anyway, I've been listening to the audiobook version this time (I read it last year) because now I have about a 40-minute drive in to work, and I don't have as much time to read now as I did when I rode the bus for the same amount of time. But I wanted to refresh my memory on where the series had left off, because the sequel (The Son of Neptune) just came out and I wanted to remember where the plot was going when I get around to audiobooking that one.

The Percy Jackson novels take place in a world where the gods and goddesses from Greek and Roman mythology actually exist, along with lots of other beings, some nice and some monsters. As in those old stories, the gods and goddesses sometimes get a little bit hot and bothered, and wind up producing children with human mortals; these children are called "demigods" because they are half-god, but they are not immortal. (Remember Hercules? In the ancient myths, he is a demigod whose father was Zeus.) The demigods in the Percy Jackson stories are teenagers, but they go on quests, battle monsters, and generally do a bunch of heroic stuff, just like the demigods in the legends. It's a very exciting fantasy world, and the books are quite popular.

A key plot point in this second story arc is that the gods and demigods find that they have to work together in order to defeat their enemies. In one pivotal scene (mild spoiler here, BTW, in case you haven't read the book), one of the demigods is able to defeat an almost invulnerable enemy by praying to Zeus and then attacking the enemy, knowing that if Zeus doesn't back him up somehow, he will be killed. Zeus does send lightning to assist him, and the enemy is defeated. Isn't that interesting? The boy prays to a god, acts in faith even though he cannot see his solution yet, and then the god backs him up. Isn't that so much like what the Bible asks us to do? Pray in faith and don't doubt, knowing that what you are praying is God's will and not just yours, and God will do His part and the answer will be there when you need it.

The book series that begins with The Lost Hero is called the "Heroes of Olympus" series; a demigod who goes on quests and succeeds at them is known as a Hero. When I've been between audiobooks lately, I've been listening to a music CD called Music Inspired by The Story which is a series of songs performed by a pretty amazing group of Christian rock, pop, and even rap artists, sung not about Bible characters, but in their voice. These songs imagine what thoughts might have gone through the mind of David, or Paul, or Moses, or Mary the mother of Jesus, or about a dozen more Bible characters. Characters? Let's call those guys what they are: they are also Heroes. Except these Heroes didn't battle cyclopes and storm spirits; the Heroes in the Bible fought the fight that each Christian faces every day. They trusted, and they doubted. They succeeded, and they messed up. They got confused, nervous, frightened. They didn't understand what was going on sometimes. But ultimately, when their lives were done, the Holy Spirit saw fit to inspire someone to write their stories out for future generations to read. And because of that, I can have Joshua or Daniel or Esther or Joseph, who lived thousands of years ago, as an inspiration. A role model. A Hero.

Do you ever wonder if somewhere, God's still writing our stories into the Bible? What if the Acts of the Apostles actually isn't finished, and won't be finished until this world ends and all of us who follow Christ cease to do our "acts"? What if what we have in our Bibles is the very first few pages of a scrapbook God's been keeping about His children ever since? What if thousands of years from now, someone gets to read in the Bible about... me? What if God is recording my quests... I mean, my "acts"... in a sequel to the Acts of the Apostles? One day I might get to be a Hero!

You know, though, if you let God speak through you, you are a Hero. When I lead my household in a Godly way, I am a Hero to my family. When I share something from the Word with someone by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I am the Hero that person needed to deliver that message to them. When I pray in faith and God adds His power to the situation, incredible, impossible things happen. It's not because I'm a powerful human; it's because He is the powerful God.

I'm not a demigod. Both of my parents are human beings, and I'm pretty sure yours are too. Mine aren't from Olympus; they're from Louisiana. Demigods aren't real, but Heroes of the Faith are. And today is your chance to be one! Accept the quest you are offered today, and be the Hero God has created you to be. Like Esther, you were created for just this time, just this situation. The challenge isn't too hard, because God equips you. Get out there and do something worthy of God's scrapbook! Maybe one day, weeks or years or decades or centuries or eons from now, your acts will be an inspiration for others!

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