Are We too old for HEROES?
Do you remember when you were younger and you selected someone, either real or fictional, as your ‘hero’? Someone who would always do the right thing without regard to personal costs! Maybe you hoped to be eventually like him/her some day. I had a number of different heroes while growing up and they greatly influenced the development of my character.
For some reason or another as we matured many of us have discarded our childhood heroes and have forgotten the virtues that they so strongly tried to advocate. Maybe the cares of the ‘real world’ seem to call for the dismissal of the ambitious goals of our youth. But did we lose something important in doing so? Have we really outgrown our need for them? Are the seemingly lofty ideals advocated by our heroes lost their relevancy?
An unusual chapter in the Book of Hebrews reveals the simple truth that heroes of our faith are suitable role models regardless of our age. Often called the ‘Roll Call of the Faithful’, Chapter 11 lists the names of a number of ordinary people who in spite of their limitations remained faithful to God and accomplished great feats. I believe this listing is there to inspire us to be better than we are and to follow the heroic examples of these everyday individuals who became great heroes of our faith.
I would like to share one of my heroes with you. If you are a churchgoer, you already have contact with this individual through her numerous hymns. However, you may not be familiar with the obstacles both physical and financial she had to overcome to achieve her rightful fame. She was born in tiny village in New York to poverty-stricken parents. When she was six week old, she caught a cold and developed an inflammation in her eyes. The family physician was not available and the man who came in his stead recommended poultices as treatment. This botched procedure resulted in her blindness.
At the age of 15, she enrolled in the ‘New York School for the Blind’. She remained there for seven years. During that time she learned to play the piano and guitar and discovered that she had a gift for singing and composing songs. She began her career writing secular songs and gained considerable fortune and fame. However, she felt prompted to use her talents for developing hymns and other sacred verse. Her handicap forced her to mentally compose hymns and then dictate them to someone else to write down. She is reputed to be able to mentally develop as many as twelve hymns at a time before dictating them.
Her numerous hymns been sung in numerous churches and provided inspiration over the years, some of them is: Blessed Assurance; To God be the Glory; Saved by Grace; Praise Him; and “All the Way My Savior Leads Me. This lady, Fanny Crosby, though blinded as a child, composed over 8,000 hymns during her lifetime and she also wrote numerous others under various pen names. Once asked if she regretted being blind, her answer should warm a believer’s heart. She replied, “When I get to heaven, the first face that shall gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” Her simple tombstone carries these words: “Aunt Fanny” and “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine.”
Her life and hymns have inspired me throughout my life and I would suggest that many other believers regardless of their ages have their hearts stirred by Aunt Fanny’s hymns. I take pride in having this humble woman as my hero as she has influenced me to ignore my own handicaps and greater appreciate not only her hymns but also those of other composers. Her numerous obstacles hymns have thrilled many people and continue to do so today even though her name and her struggles may be unknown. And yet whenever we joyfully sing her songs to the glory of our Lord we are paying homage to one of my heroes, Fanny Cosby.