Dedicated to Dad.
Brian John Fisher 11/5/1948 – 21/8/2015
James 1 v 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Acts 16 v 15 – 40.
Everyone has their favorite Superhero. Be it batman, Spider-Man, Ironman or Superman they each possess wonderful skills and powers which enthrall people the world over. We are drawn to these fantasy figures because what we see in them is what we would like to see in our own lives. Everybody wants to be a hero.
The sad reality is that these Superheroes are all fictional. As brilliant as they are, they only exist in the amazing minds and vivid imaginations of their creators.
Despite their fictional status these Superheroes share something very important in common. They have each been borne from the most desperate of circumstances. We know that Batman dedicates his life to justice after watching his parents being robbed and killed. Superman uses his powers for good here on earth after his home planet Krypton was destroyed. Spider-Man uses his physical abnormalities in the service of those unable to defend themselves.
There is, however, a more important link between our fictional friends. A link which we as Christians can learn and benefit from. A link which is so profound that that it will place us into one of two categories. “God’s Superheroes” or “Super Zeros”. The link is simply this. Each of our Superheroes has accepted the very worst that life has brought them and they have used it for the greater good. What we would term as “devastating” they see as “opportunity”. What we would see as “soul destroying” they have used for “character building”. They have taken “desperation” and changed it into “motivation”. The tragic situation’s in their lives didn’t break them……they made them. That is the definition of a true Superhero.
My Dad will always be my second greatest human Superhero ( John 3 v 16). I have never known a man who suffered so much with such faith. In the 46 years I knew this remarkable man, I never heard him complain or doubt in God’s endless love for him. During our conversations about his health he would always turn his problem on its head. He would use it as an opportunity to share how God’s love, strength and power sustained him. Dad never brought his circumstances with him…. he just chose to bring his God.
As he approached his final days I recall a bedside hospital conversation we shared. He didn’t talk about the operation to remove his kidney, the failing chemotherapy or his constant pain. He talked about opportunity. He spoke of how God had led him to this hospital bed and ward for a reason. He spoke about witnessing to people he would never have met. He spoke about ministering into the situations of people that lay in the beds on either side of him. In Hospital, Dad brought God with him and he made the choice to leave his cancer behind.
On the day he Joined the saints I was a backslidden Christian. Very shortly after his passing, I rededicated my life to God. There were many at the time who thought my decision was the result of grief or a nervous disorder. The truth is, they couldn’t have been more incorrect. It wasn’t death that drew me to the cross that day. It was the reality of God in the life of the man I called Dad.
The reality of God’s existence is irrefutable because it is written over every single day of my Dad’s life. He could not have existed on determination or will power. He could not have lived through his own strength and self-belief. His existence was exactly as he described it. It was God who upheld, supported and sustained him.
As a child I asked God for proof of his existence. As a man I found the proof I requested under my very nose – in the life of the person I was honoured to call my Father.
Today I stand here as a testament to my earthly father’s wisdom. Of all people he had the greatest justification to complain about his situation. He could have quite easily brought anger, pain, distress, sadness and bitterness into our conversations. He could have chosen to be a Super Zero. If that was the case, today I would be going to a bleak eternity, lost forever. Dad’s decision to exalt his God and not his problem’s makes him my greatest human Superhero. Only superheroes can truly change lives.
As for my Dad I can only say this. “To have called you friend would have been my greatest privilege. To be able to call you Father was my honour. My greatest blessing however was to know you for who you really were…… God’s amazing Superhero”
Acts Chapter 16 v 15 – 40
In our now familiar passage from acts we find Paul and Silas in prison at Philippi facing a desperate situation. I can’t really emphasize how serious this situation is. They’ve been tried, sentenced and beaten. They’d been Robbed of their possessions, their freedom and thrown into prison. Their situation is one of desperation because of the nature of the prison in which they find themselves. In the time of Christ Jewish prisons bore no resemblance to their modern-day counterparts. They were nothing less than a death sentence from which there was no escape. They were run by people who were cruel, callous and vicious. Prisoners were systematically starved, beaten, tortured and murdered by their jailer’s. It was a place where cruelty and violence were a part of everyday existence. There is no way that Paul & Silas would have survived this incarceration. Like many before them their fate would appear to be sealed.
As I’ve thought about the events that took place that night I cannot help but be humbled. For, sat in a prison cell over 2000 years ago are two very remarkable men. They have lost everything they own. They have been beaten, unjustly imprisoned and face certain death. Above all others, they have earned the right to complain bitterly about their problem’s and their fate. But Paul & Silas are far more than believer’s…. they are Gods superheroes. They made the choice to take God with them and they left their circumstances behind.
(Acts 16 v 25- “About midnight Paul & Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them”.)
We all know the remarkable miracles that took place in that prison in Philippi. That amazing life changing outpouring of God’s power. But what of the aftermath? I have often wondered how many more lives were changed as a result of those event’s. How many more prisoners did the jailer and his family lead to Christ? How many people did each of those prisoner’s win for the kingdom? How many people through the ages have been touched by that amazing experience in a dark forgotten prison two thousand years ago? Probably millions……………..
In a Prison in Philippi, Paul and Silas brought God into the most desperate of circumstances. They brought God and they left their circumstances behind. For this reason, they are the real superheroes in Acts Chapter 16. Only God’s superheroes can truly change lives.
As we start a new week we need to take a close look at ourselves and the difficulties we face. What will we bring to people this week? Will we bring the impossibility of our situation? Will we bring our frustration, our anger and our fear? Will we share our hopelessness, desperation and sadness, or will we, like Paul & Silas, choose to bring our God and leave the problems we face behind?
This week I pray we will all become Gods superheroes.
Dedicated to my Dad – Gods Superhero.