We stand by your casket– remains of the Earth
Your life just a memory– carried treasure
For forty years you stayed, honored our worth
Giving us, the forgotten, you last full measure
Can poverty’s heartbreak be closed just with care?
Can one person’s acts turn want on a dime?
Perhaps not. But lived love does lessen despair
You saw us, walked with us, hand-helped our climb
And now we are left with one heart-gaping hole
In this place, we will always honor your name
You lived by God’s grace, with fire in your soul
Which set ours alight in perpetual flame
“Thank you” seems tiny, when you warrant best
We love you– we’ll miss you– by you we were blessed
Climate change… war… threats to democracy… racial strife… poverty… hunger. The crises of our time are beyond easy answers. It's so easy to inch past the crash scene, rubbernecking but not stopping to help. Alarmed but unmoved. If “not my problem” echoes in our minds, our hearts are sure to harden. And each time we drive away, we will diminish ourselves. We will become more self-centered; our dreams will be smaller; we'll feel more fearful. Until we find ourselves shrink-wrapped, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, into “lives of quiet desperation”.
Is this our lot? To spend our short time on Earth caught in a dwindling circle of care, endlessly fretting as we wait for the next shoe to drop?
God says no. In love, He reaches out to our hearts. He asks that we trust Him. He assures us that, with His help, we will find ourselves. We will see our goodness, will see the need around us, and will be inspired to advance the good. God wants us to live heroic lives; to dream the impossible dream. Hearts set to light, we will then be released like floating lanterns by God, to become light for the world.
God needs leaders on fire-- leaders who burn with desire to make a difference. Leaders who stare down the crisis or need or injustice, and do not shrink. Who will work for the good, against all odds. So that through us, God might renew the face of the Earth.
In the play “Man from La Mancha”, Don Quixote heads off on a quest to restore chivalry, battle all evil, and right all wrongs in the world. Everyone he meets sees him as a lunatic, caught up in fantasy, a deluded idealist. He and his sidekick Sancho soon come to a roadside inn. Don Quixote is convinced it’s a castle. While sitting at table, he notices a gang of men propositioning a server, who is also a prostitute. Her name is Aldonza, but Don Quixote is convinced she is the princess Dulcinea: a fair lady of great dignity and worth. He rises to her defense, stepping between her and the men and proclaiming her virtue. Aldonza becomes confused and angry. When later she confronts him, she calls him an irrational old fool, describing herself as just a prostitute. But he insists again she is a lady, due great honor and respect. For the first time she sees herself through his eyes. She begins to believe. When she asks where he is going, and why, he sings the song, The Impossible Dream:
To dream the impossible dream– to fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow– and to run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong– to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary– to reach the unreachable star
This is my quest–to follow that star– no matter how hopeless– no matter how far To fight for the right– without question or pause To be willing to march into Hell for that Heavenly cause
Time and again throughout history, leaders of goodness have risen up, hearts ablaze, to do the impossible.
Greta Thunberg is a leader on fire:
“Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is.”
Winston Churchill was a leader on fire. At the lowest point of World War II, after the fall of Dunkirk, when Nazi victory seemed inevitable, he said to the British people:
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
And the people rose to their leader’s challenge, and fought, and won.
Martin Luther King was a leader on fire. He said at the Lincoln Memorial,
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.... Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
And he changed America.
Good leader, what is your heavenly cause? What sets your heart afire? Our world is in desperate need of heroes. Not in the military sense so much as leaders who live purpose-driven lives. Whether it be in your home, your community, your country or your planet, you are called to be heroic. To go into the broken world, fueled by the fire of His love.
Perhaps you will achieve the impossible. Or not– sometimes windmills stay windmills. Regardless of the outcome, God treasures your struggle for goodness. Your job, good leader, is to be heroic. The rest is up to Him.
“He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.”-- Psalms 62: 6-7
Yours by the fire of His love,
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