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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Famous People, Real Heroes

How many famous people have you seen or met?

My father, because of varied work commitments, met Eva Gabor (Remember Green Acres?), Elizabeth Taylor (with her husband at the time, Senator John Warner), Chuck Colson (Watergate, later involved in prison ministries), singer and beauty Anita Bryant, many of the Virginia governors, quite a few congressmen and senators, and a few beauty queens.

Once, when my dad was in Washington, he was interviewed by a reporter, who thought he was talking to Senator Bob Dole. It must have been hilarious. Reporter: “Senator Dole, what is your opinion on . . . ?” My father: “I’m sorry; I’m not Senator Dole.” You can just imagine the reporter’s reaction!

My parents attended a banquet where the Senator of Delaware, Joe Biden (now Vice President), prepared an ice cream sundae for my mother. (My dad was busy talking to someone else at the time.)

As I have lived overseas for the past 27 years, my claims to have met anyone famous can be counted on one hand with some fingers to spare. I saw both Ronald Reagan and George Bush on campaign stops and at some distance. I didn’t meet them. I have met the famous bass opera star, Samuel Ramey. What a voice! I met both the hymnologist Al Smith and the Russian pastor Georgi Vins when each spoke at our church.  

Most of us are best acquainted with “normal” people. Far away from L.A., Washington, New York, and the bright lights, red carpets, diamonds, and furs, the great majority of us lead normal lives with normal friends.

I got to thinking about all the “fluff” in fame. While I think it’s right to recognize people for real accomplishments and admire them for doing good, I think that sometimes the people that the world holds up as “great” have more problems adjusting to life than we do.

Just this week, one of the news headlines was a couple getting engaged. This is no ordinary couple. They are Hollywood elite. They have six children and have been in a living together relationship for seven years. Each has been married at least once before. Their children encouraged them to get married. So now, she is sporting a huge diamond ring, and they must be planning the wedding of the century. How romantic!

I can’t help thinking how backwards it all is.

My father said that Elizabeth Taylor was “as lovely in person as in the movies and magazines.” I am sure she was! (By the way, my dad has great taste; he married my mother!) I have read and heard many things about Ms. Taylor’s love for people and how she helped those less fortunate. Those violet eyes and two rows of black eyelashes were her assets. Her symmetrical face was great from any angle. She had a sweet voice. Who could forget her? I always felt sad for her, though, because she couldn’t seem to get her own love story right.

I truly never desired fame. How much simpler life is when you need no body guards, no one asks you for donations, you don’t need a manager or contracts, and you don’t have to wear sunglasses so no one will recognize you when you take a walk or go to the grocery store. I love being normal!

Who do we set up as our role models? How about choosing those who lived for God: Moses, Esther, Joshua, David, Joseph, Hannah, Daniel, Mary, Peter, John, Paul, and many more biblical characters? How about heroes like David Livingstone, Amy Carmichael, John and Betty Stam, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Isobel Kuhn, Eric Liddell, and Hudson Taylor? None of them were “fluffy.” None of them were interested in huge diamonds or red carpets. They were real people who lived cleanly and feared God. They invested in treasures in heaven. They were rich with God!

Hebrews 11 is sometimes called “God’s Hall of Fame.” The common thread was faith—saving, active faith. The people mentioned might not have been the ones we would have picked for our Hall of Fame, but God sets them up as examples for us all. They are: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets, and persecuted Christians. The Bible says,”of whom the world was not worthy.” Now, those are real heroes!