If you pay any attention to the movie scene, you know that a new rendition of Spiderman was released this summer. By my count that’s four Hollywood movies and a Broadway musical based on the Marvel comic book series created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963. Clearly, the story is a moneymaker. But what is it about the Spiderman character that makes him so enduring? Peter Parker is a teenager, living with his aunt and uncle after the death of his parents. He suffers from normal teenage problems like loneliness and inadequacy, even bullying at school. After he develops superpowers resulting from a radioactive spider bite, his human problems and failings remain. Peter Parker the boy drives the decisions of Spiderman the hero, and it’s a struggle. Why is Peter Parker bitten? Why is he appointed protector of New York City? No particular reason it seems. He is an unspectacular person empowered to do spectacular things. I love this quote; “As a human race, we demand images of greatness. Heroes satisfy that demand. But heroes do not simply reflect our values and beliefs; they also reconcile us to human failings and limitations.” Spiderman is a very human hero.
As we continue our journey through Judges, we find another story of a very human hero. This time it is not a fictional character but one of the Bible’s most renowned heroes – Gideon. By his own admission in Judges 6:15, Gideon thinks of himself as pretty ordinary. “There was nothing particularly special about Gideon; he was an ordinary young man, from an inconsequential family. And he was living through a traumatic period in Israel’s history, doing what he could to survive. At the time Israel was under the thumb of the Midianites. God’s people were living in caves as their enemy continually plundered their homes and harvest. When The Angel of the Lord shows up to tap Gideon as Israel’s deliverer, he is hiding, threshing wheat in the winepress in order to avoid being discovered by his enemies. Gideon’s response to the Most High is something like, “Me? You’re kidding, right?” Even a visible manifestation of God is not enough to quell his doubts and insecurities. Gideon needs repeated reassurance, in word and in action, which the Lord patiently gives him. As the story unfolds, his timidity is transformed through the presence, empowerment and assurance of God. He becomes the valiant warrior the Lord prophesies him to be at their first meeting. Why was Gideon called by God to be the deliverer of his people? No particular reason it seems. He is an unspectacular person empowered to spectacular things.
I often feel unspectacular in the face of trial or an insurmountable task, no matter how large or small. Do you? I think we all need reassurance, in word and in action in order to persevere. God takes our inadequacies and empowers us to do spectacular things – just like Gideon. His story is an encouraging reminder that God enables all his children to be – very human heroes.
God is preparing His heroes. And when the opportunity comes, He can fit them into their places in a moment. And the world will wonder where they came from. – A.B. Simpson