Heroes of Faith
We have been going through Hebrews 11 during our Sunday morning sermon series for the past seven weeks. While our sermon series is called Pictures of Faith, Hebrews 11 has often been referred to as the “Hall of Faith” or “Faith Heroes” throughout the years. So as we have been learning about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and more, I have also been thinking about my own personal heroes of faith as well.
I think that it’s important to reflect on, and acknowledge those that have come into our own faith stories over the years, and to tell others about our heroes. There are of course many people that I could mention, from previous pastors and professors I’ve had, to the older men and women that I have seen model the life of faith so well over the years. Parents, mentors, and friends have all been a part of my journey of following God and living my life based on the faith that I have in God’s Kingdom.
Today, I wanted to write about one of these people in my life. While I’m so thankful for several pastors and wise mentors in my life, today I want to talk about someone my age, someone I went to High School with even!
One of my heroes of faith is my friend Tommy. Who’s Tommy, you might ask. Tommy is one of the kindest, gentlest, and most graceful people that I know. Throughout my life there have been few people that I know I could count on in any situation, and Tommy is one of them.
One of my favorite stories about Tommy happened when we were in Junior College, right after High School. Tommy had this sweet red Honda Civic hatchback that he had put a body kit on, so it looked like a “suped" up racing car. The problem was that all he had really changed on it was the body kit, so it looked like a nicer car than it really was.
Since Tommy had a nice looking Honda Civic, and Honda Civics at the time, were one the most broken into and stolen cars around. Tommy’s car got broken into a lot. I felt bad for the guy, he had his radio stolen more than once, and had to replace at least a couple of broken windows. So you would think that the guy would be angry and upset all the time about people breaking into his car, well he was, but he was also the most gracious and positive person I knew who ever had his car broken into.
After one incident where his radio was stolen, Tommy brought me into his car to show me what a clean job the thieves had done. I can remember sitting in that red Civic hatchback in the parking lot of Cosumnes River College, and Tommy telling me, “Dude, check out how clean they did it, they just took the stereo, they didn’t even crack the dashboard or anything.” I laughed out loud, and marveled at his ability to compliment the thieves that had stolen his car stereo.
Then Tommy said something I couldn’t believe, I don’t remember his exact words, but I remember he said something along the lines of, “I just hope that whoever took my stereo needed it more than I did, I pray that God used that to help someone feed their family, or that He convicts them to not steal anymore.” Like I said, I don’t remember the exact quote, but I remember marveling at the ability of my friend to show forgiveness to those who had harmed him, to show grace and mercy where anyone else would have harbored anger or hostility.
It’s one thing to read a parable like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), and another to actually live it out, It’s one thing to read the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) and to nod our head, but it’s something else completely to ACTUALLY love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. I often tell our youth group that Jesus never told us that following him was going to be easy, he never makes the claim that if we chose him then life will become full of rainbows and unicorns, but it’s another thing entirely to actually live that out when the rubber of life hits the road of our faith.
I have a handful of other stories about my good friend Tommy, about the time we prayed with a homeless woman in the middle of the night in Sacramento, about the time we were in Paris and he took me to a Korean church that spoke French (talk about being lost in translation!), or about the times that he’s picked up the phone and calls me out of the blue because he felt God putting me on his heart, and much more. But I don’t have the time or the space to write about those things here.
God is good, and he has shown himself to me through countless people in my life, but there are few people that deserve the designation “Hero of Faith”, I’m just thankful that I have Tommy in my life to be one of my heroes.
Who are some of the heroes of faith in your life? Are they the people that you would “expect”, or are they “normal” people who just live their lives of faith out for all to see? I’d love to hear from you, and I’m sure that your heroes would love to hear from you as well!
P.S. Tommy is an amazing photographer, you should check out his stuff on his website tommyjsullivan.com.