July 6, 2021
“He [Paul] was accompanied by Sopater, son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia” (Acts 20:4, NIV).
I wheeled him into the exam room myself, as he had no one else to help him. After my evaluation I noted his Vietnam veteran Marine cap. “You’re a hero to me for what you’ve done for our country,” I said. “I’m one of the lucky ones,” he replied. “Twelve of my buddies didn’t make it back. When they brought the Vietnam Memorial replica to town, I went out to find their names. Not one of them was listed. I asked what was going on, and they asked me when I had served in Nam. I told him ‘62 to ‘63. They explained that the list had only been started in ‘65. ‘It was not a war before then, only a conflict,’ they said. My buddies gave their lives for our country, and they were never even counted.”
How many uncounted soldiers have served and died, or been forever broken, in our country’s wars? Certainly, far more than the heroes we commemorate. And yet, these forgotten ones are the foundation from which our heroes have risen to be recognized. We would have no heroes to admire were it not for the uncounted.
I suspect it’s the same in God’s army. We know the names of many whom we call Christian heroes: Bonhoeffer, Graham, Lucado, Piper, Keller, Elliot, ten Boom, Wilberforce, Colson, Mohler, etc. Most of us could name another hundred who have stood tall and spoken truth into chaos. I thank God for these who have held our culture together in powerful ways as Satan has nudged us toward a self-centered swamp of disillusion.
These are legitimate heroes, but these are merely the spearhead of God’s army. Most of God’s army, like my friend’s buddies, are uncounted.
They include the small-town pastors who persevere with the gospel while working other jobs to feed their kids.
The doctor who cares for patients each day, touching and loving and sharing the name of Jesus before rushing home, late again to her son’s ball game.
The retired and forgotten missionary who left a son behind in an African grave.
The dentist who daily opens her office with a devotion from God’s Word.
The single mom who faithfully drags her kids to church after working six days each week to pay for their school supplies.
The family medicine physician who shows up every month to work an evening shift at the Christian health clinic.
The optometrist who gives half of his allotted vacation each year to deliver glasses to the poor in Haiti.
These may not be counted by the church as Christian heroes, but their lives count far more than whispers in the wind. For as God declares His kingdom through the lives of His heroes, He is building His kingdom on the foundation of His uncounted.
Let me serve faithfully the role You have for me in Your kingdom and someday know the joy of completing my work for You.