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Unsung Heroes

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of … William Dawes?”
 

There was a time when every school child knew by heart at least the first stanza of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s classic ode to the Revolutionary era patriot who bears its name. Its galloping cadence was spellbinding, and the poet’s masterful tale telling held us breathless until the end. Yet history shows there were two freedom riders that April night in 1775—Paul Revere and William Dawes. Of the two, it was actually Dawes who successfully reached Lexington with the news of the invading army; his more notable counterpart was caught by British soldiers. Why, then, do we not know of Dawes? Simply this: Longfellow wrote about Revere.

The Bible is filled with historic accounts of God accomplishing great things through its notable heroes. We think of His miracles worked through Peter, John and Paul, for instance—healing diseases and raising people from the dead. Yet serving God in obedience doesn’t always take on, shall we say, such Biblical proportions. Consider those whom Paul greeted in his letter to the church in Rome and how he commended them. There was Mary, “who worked very hard for you”1; Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis likewise “worked very hard in the Lord.”2 Rufus was “chosen in the Lord” and his mother was “like a mother to me,”3 the apostle fondly recalled. Then there was Apelles, “tested and approved in Christ.”4 Though Paul’s co-workers would not generate the same press as his own, there they were, working hard alongside of him, humbly doing what they were called to do. Were we in their place, might we have deprecated our own Kingdom contribution, seemingly small by comparison? Yet Paul genuinely applauded his co-workers, and he treasured their partnership in the Lord.

Sometimes we hold ourselves to a false double standard, denigrating ourselves for that which we would exalt in others. Do we belittle ourselves, for instance, for not engaging hands-on in a particular ministry as others may, even though we financially underwrite the cause? Then how ironic that when we are the ones actively engaged in ministry, we find ourselves humbled by those whose role is to battle for it invisibly on their knees in prayer. Here’s the thing: God calls us to take up our role, regardless of how we regard it or who else knows about it. For now, only God knows the impact of our obedience to His call, and for now that is enough.

Father, You call us into action. Open our eyes to all that You have for us to do today, and no matter how great or humble we might perceive our role, give us hearts that humbly trust and gladly obey. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Romans 16:6
2 Romans 16:12
3 Romans 16:13
4 Romans 16:10

2 replies on “Unsung Heroes”

Very timely as we prepare for our roles on MCI Kairos 48. Prayers for inmates and my teammates as we go to do his will!

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