- Abraham, venturing into the unknown
- Moses, leading a stiff-necked people
- Ruth, forging her way through poverty
- David, facing Goliath
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, enduring the fiery furnace
- Daniel, thrown in to a den of lions
These are the stories our children hear, the “heroes of faith”. But they are not the hero.
Harold and the Purple Crayon is a story of a little boy named Harold, who with his purple crayon, creates a world around him. He begins simply, drawing only a moon. He then draws a pathway to follow the moon, but begins to grow weary of following the path and steers off course to a delicious apple tree. It then needs protecting by a dragon that inadvertently frightens Harold who falls into an ocean, but then is saved by a boat that sails him to shore where he satisfies his growing hunger with a picnic of pies and on and on the story unfolds into a magical adventure for Harold, all penned by his purple crayon.
Now, in the book, regardless of how elaborate the scene becomes, Harold is always on the page, with his purple crayon, drawing the scene as it unfolds. Never is the scene unfolding without him. Let’s say you turn to the middle of the book to a scene that shows many tall buildings, with lots of windows, and Harold and his crayon down in the corner. It would be incorrect to highlight the city and buildings alone. They could be talked about separately from the entire book, sure, but not without the overarching context that Harold is drawing them.
The Bible is the same. It was never about Moses or David or Daniel. It’s not about heroes of old, but rather the one, only, singular Hero.
It’s about how God, led Abram into the unknown and was faithful to him even when Abraham was faithless.
It’s about God, calling a stiff-necked man, who came up with excuses and empowered him to lead a stiff-necked people.
It’s about God, providing for Ruth in the form of a mother-in-law as well as a kinsmen-redeemer in the face of being a widow, in a new land and new culture.
It’s about God, giving David, a small boy, the courage, the talent, and accuracy in the face of a giant.
It’s about God, protecting and walking with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bolstering their faith, in a fire that consumed even the guards.
It’s about God, shutting the mouths of lions when Daniel was thrown in.
So while yes, we can, and should, talk about faith and courage and trust, let us not miss the bigger story. The story that tells us that we are not the hero. God is.
I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10b)
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)