Can you imagine standing beside Abraham in a worship service? Sitting next to Noah while the preacher preaches? Standing in the prayer line beside Elijah?
How would that effect your faith? How would it change your expectations for that service?
I met a few Heroes of the Faith at church last night. You probably haven’t heard about any of these. I know you didn’t see their names in Hebrews eleven.
The crowd was down. Summer has begun and lots of families are taking advantage of it. As I scanned the group gathered for our weekly adult Bible class, I saw more empty seats than live bodies.
Once I got past the disappointment of having half of the class absent, I looked closely at who was there.
Only three people sat in one section. Way at the back, a grandmother sat on a pew by herself. A few rows from the front, two ladies sat next to each other on an otherwise empty pew – the daughter and granddaughter of the lady in the back.
Just a few weeks ago, the granddaughter received her doctorate from a local university. She sings with our worship team and you can count on her to be in the prayer room every Sunday before church. I came to the church one afternoon and heard noise in the sanctuary. Barefoot and wearing old clothes, she was cleaning and waxing the fiberglass baptistry.
Her mother received the Holy Ghost at school. Public school. Really! When she was young, our church was having a revival. She and some friends got permission to stay inside their classroom during lunch and had a prayer meeting. The Holy Ghost came down and she started speaking in tongues. Now, she teaches in a public classroom, reaching for wayward kids from disadvantaged homes.
The grandmother on the back pew? She was standing in her bathtub hanging wallpaper one Tuesday morning when she realized it was time for the ladies’ weekly prayer meeting. Since she was in the middle of wallpapering her bathroom, she decided not to go. But then, she changed her mind. That morning, God filled her with the Holy Ghost as the ladies were praying. She’s retired now, but for years she served our community in the same school building where her daughter received the Holy Ghost. She has been faithfully serving God for more years than her pastor has been alive. She taught Sunday School for dozens of children, now grown, who fondly recall cookouts on the banks of the Mississippi River and trips to the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh. She didn’t just go through the motions, but she invested her life into young people.
On the far right sat another grandmother. She sits quietly, but is as spiritually sensitive as anybody I’ve met. She seems to know when a young person needs to hear a strong word or receive a pat on the back. She seldom says much, but always recognizes when the pastor has preached a message that was difficult for him to deliver and never fails to shake his hand and simply say, “I appreciate you.”
In the middle sat a former, well, I won’t say drunk, but heavy drinker. He’s not had a sip for decades. Now, he watches his grandchildren sing, preach, and lead worship – big tears running down his cheeks.
Fiddling with the cameras and soundboard in the back is a fellow who holds one of the most important government positions in our county. At his age, he should be using the resources he’s worked so hard to collect on a little cottage by the lake or a cabin in the mountains. Instead, he spends it traveling to third-world countries, sharing the Gospel with folks who will never know he is that important guy with the corner office on the top floor of the courthouse.
I could go on and on. But, so could you about the folks who gather with you every time you have church. We get so used to them sitting there that we never think about how faithful they have been, the difficult trials they have endured, or the many lives they have blessed – until they die. Then, we remember and feel blessed to have known them. We need to recognize them NOW for the giants they are.
If you will consider the host of faithful heroes that you worship with every Sunday, it will energize your faith and raise your expectations a few notches.
Take a close look at those around you. Ponder their lives and stories. Then let your faith soar every time you come to church – because you are standing next to Heroes of the Faith.