That Persistent Whisper

I had just had a great cup of coffee and a good catch-up with one of my close friends, an honorary member of My Band Of Blokes. I always leave invigorated and thoughtful. And today was no exception.

As I slowly walked (thanks to sciatica) home, I approached a very small car, the size of which will become significant soon. A lady approached the car in a wheelchair. I was going to say she was an older lady, but then realised that she is probably about my age. She wrestled the drivers door open and heaved herself from the chair into the car. I paused. As I was about to walk past the car, the woman pushed the back of the drivers seat back, so that she would be almost lying flat. I realised that she was about to heave the wheelchair over herself and onto the passenger seat. I thought carefully. These situations can be tricky.

“I don’t mean to insult you, but would you like some help?” She smiled. “I’m not insulted, and some days, I appreciate the help, but today, I’m fine, thank you.” I smiled. “Then, in that case, I will continue walking, feeling inspired.” When I mentioned it to my daughter, she told me that the woman goes swimming, heaves herself out of the pool and onto her waiting wheelchair. She swims faster than my daughter, all with upper body strength. I’m impressed.

I had barely crossed the road, when the whisper I have come to know and love, asked a very pointed question: “So, which miracle draws more attention to me (God)? The miracle of supernatural, instantaneous healing? That, quite frankly, is often forgotten within days? Or the miracle of somebody exhibiting supernatural courage and grace as they face the challenges of every moment of every day?”

If there is a correct answer, it is probably, “Both/and.” And please, do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting for even a second that we shouldn’t be believing in miracles, or even praying for them. I’ve seen enough to know that miracles, whatever shape they come in, give My Great Papa bucketloads of credit, and inspire faith and confidence in him to do it again. But I wonder – that’s all – whether we underestimate the stories of those who are never healed, but exhibit the same faith and confidence in God by their courage and resilience in the face of adversity?

Speaking for myself, I am inspired by those close to me, and those who are strangers, who have no faith or bucketloads of faith, who face their challenges with courage and resilience. And my faith is lifted and injected with new life – yes, with the way they deal with their lives, but also when I see and hear stories of Papa’s supernatural interventions in the lives of others.

It is often not what you are looking at, but what you see and the way you see it.


Hero = noun, plural he·roes; for 5 also he·ros.

a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character:

He became a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal:

My older sister is my hero. Entrepreneurs are our modern heroes.

I am thinking of making this a series of blogs about people who have impacted my life either intentionally or without knowing. Some I know, some are strangers; some come to stay for a while, fellow pilgrims sharing their journey with me and vice verse, while others are there for a moment and then gone. But all have changed my life in one way or another, and so I am very grateful for them. And every time I think of them, I am again inspired to press on, to keep going, to remember who I am and why I do what I do. They deserve to be my heroes.

The Old Man with a Young Heart:

I used to see them almost every day, same time, same place unless it was raining. He, a little old man, but pretty fit for his age and his wife, trapped in a wheelchair and dependent on her husband to create for her as much freedom as he possibly could. For weeks I would simply walk past them, maybe say “Good morning,” and then carry on. Invariably, I had a baby, disgruntled, sometimes screaming, who hated the pram with a vengeance, so conversation would be challenging. At least that is my excuse! Until…

In the end I could not resist! I never can! I said hello, and then started a conversation, that ended up with me saying to the old man, “I watch you every day and have figured out that you are amazing, walking your wife down to the beach every day.” To which he replied, “Oh, it’s nothing. The lady is worth it!” At which point, I could feel the tears coming, and moved on quickly.

These are those divine appointments, those God-created encounters with ordinary people, who do extraordinary things and become heroes without realising it, inspiring others to crack on, and press in, however tough it is. And in those moments with these heroes, I find renewed strength, courage and resilience to keep on doing what I do, because whoever it is, and whatever it is I am doing, “they are worth it.”

The Bible talks about us all being made in the image of God. Now that can mean a whole range of things, depending on your theological position, the journey you have been on and the kind of person you are. But, at the very least, it means that you are “worth it.” It places within each person living today an intrinsic value based on nothing other than you are alive and breathing and made in the image of God.

And for me, living in this moment and enjoying it, this intrinsic value must, by definition, impact the way I am living now, what I am doing and why I am doing it, how I relate to God – my Papa – and how I relate to the next one. For the most part, the next one for me is the little one in our care today; it is the birth parents with all their pain and darkness and wounds and their inability to care for their little ones; it is the social workers and other professionals, most of whom try to do the best they can while working in a broken and malnourished system. And all of them are worth my best efforts to be like my Papa, just because they are, made in the image of God. And, of course, it means those who are always my next ones – my wife, my own kids, my wider family, and my church family – they are all worth it.

And so, when I look back at where I started, admiring a little old man pushing his disabled wife down the beach because she is worth it, I am inspired to just maybe, be a hero and an inspiration to somebody else.