Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who are Your Heroes?

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-3

Our culture loves heroes!  Some, like me, have heroes in the arenas of sports (Eli Manning), politics (Ronald Reagan) or music (Elvis).  Whether we admit it or not, most of us have a tendency to put people on pedestals and exalt them to hero status.  In reality, all of them are just common people who excelled at something…but they’re really no different than us. 
Over the years I’ve met some pretty amazing people.  While I’ve been honored to know people with title and position, the ones that have had the greatest impact on my life were normal, everyday people.   None of them would consider themselves “great”, but through their commitment to serving our Lord they have modeled greatness.  Let me share a few of my “heroes” with you…
Over twenty-five years ago I had the privilege of serving a small church outside of Picayune, Mississippi.  West Union Baptist Church is an important marker for me because of several reasons.  It was here that I married my wonderful wife, Wendy.  It also was here that our oldest daughter, Kayla, was born.  As an aside, our choir of about twenty-five people provided the rehearsal dinner for our wedding and gave us the biggest baby shower this side of the Mississippi!  This was my first “full time” church and the wonderful folks at West Union allowed me to learn from my mistakes…and there were many!  It also was here I met Travis Drury.  Travis was in his late fifties when I came to serve the church.  He had been saved late in life and was a real “man’s man.”  Largely uneducated, Travis had worked and lived hard his entire life.  After meeting Jesus, however, his priorities took an immediate shift.  I never will forget the day that Travis met with me to explain that he had never learned to read.  Since accepting Christ he had enrolled in a reading class so he could learn to read his Bible.  Travis also wanted to sing in the choir, but he needed the music in advance to take it to his class.  Over the next few years, I would get Travis his music, he would take it to the class, and then he would fill his spot in the loft every week...singing every word with a big smile!  What came naturally for most was a labor of love for Travis.  Travis was not educated but he was wiser than most…he understood the importance of studying God’s word and made praising Him through music a priority.  Travis Drury is one of my heroes…
All of us have been guilty of taking things for granted.  Most of us never give a second thought to our ability to see clearly.  That is not the case with Bob Sigrest.  Bob is a life deacon at First Baptist Jackson and he and his wife, Edie, have been faithful members of the choir for many years.  Bob suffers from macular degeneration that has left him legally blind.  To be honest, I didn’t realize this for several years because  Bob always was in choir and participated in all rehearsals and major presentations.  Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, our choir and orchestra traveled to New Orleans to present a concert in the aftermath of that horrific natural disaster.  Riding on the bus to the Crescent City, I noticed that Bob was holding a piece of paper within three inches of his face.  What I saw next forever impacted me.  Bob had typed the words to each song, enlarged them to at least a 35 point font, and was memorizing all his music.  Because his eyesight prevented him from reading, Bob had figured out a way he could continue to be part of our choir.  Though his eyesight has continued to worsen, Bob still sings and ALWAYS knows the words.  Bob Sigrest is one of my heroes…  
James and Zelma Foster were career missionaries serving in the Philippines for over 30 years.  After their retirement, they moved to Jackson, Mississippi where they continued their service through the various ministries of FBC Jackson.  Following Mrs. Foster’s death, Mr. Foster continued to serve as an active member of the Sanctuary Choir and Reflections Choir (our senior adult choir).  By the time I arrived in Jackson in 2005, Mr. James was in his early 90s and the years had started to take their toll.  In fact, Mr. Foster could barely get around.  When he walked, he did so with the aid of a walker and his steps were no more than 6-8 inches in length.  Arthritis had bent his body to the point that he could hardly make eye contact because of the curvature of his spine.  Getting anywhere was a challenge…but Mr. Foster NEVER missed choir.  With the assistance of choir members like Bobby Bairfield, Mr. Foster would begin his journey to choir rehearsal and worship long before everyone else.  He had to because of his limited mobility.  And long after everyone else had left the church campus, I’ve passed Mr. Foster being assisted into a car.  When others complained about having to stand for long periods of time or missed choir for almost any reason, Mr. Foster was the picture of faithfulness.  He sang in the choir as long as he was physically able to be at church.  Now he lives in assisted living center in Jackson, but the impact of his tireless commitment will always with me.  James Foster is one of my heroes…
The truth is there are unsung heroes all around us!  Each week they fight through physical adversity, family crisis and uncertain futures to be part of our ministries.  They sacrificially give of their time and fill their places each week, not because it’s easy, but because God has called them to do so!  So what has God called you to do?  Will you be faithful to that commitment?  Take it from a guy who has seen some real heroes:  our best is not always easy but it’s what God deserves.  Thanks Travis, Bob and Mr. Foster, for showing me what a true hero looks like!
Pursuing the Call!
LLG

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