Every story line falls into one of three categories: boy meets girl, man who learns better, and heroic quest. A simple story just traces one of these story lines, but more complicated books weave all of these story lines together while still maintaining one single overarching story line. When I heard writing instructor Daniel Schwabauer explain this in his Cover Story curriculum, I started reading and analyzing stories in a whole different way.
My first novel Elephant in the Room falls into the category of man who learns better, or rather, a man, a family and an entire church community who learn better. I think Christian women need to be very careful about reading and dreaming about boy meets girl stories because we can be tempted by discontentment, impatience and lust. The category of heroic quest gives creative writers the opportunity to imagine fascinating people in exotic locations searching for valuable treasures. While it’s entertaining to go on these journeys from the safety and comfort of our own home, it leaves me asking the question: Where can I find a hero?
Recently, I asked my Sunday School class to identify some make-believe heroes or superheroes as well as some real-life heroes. They quickly identified classic cartoon characters including Batman and Superman. The list for real-life heroes included army soldiers, police officers, firemen and doctors.
For these children, the definition of a hero was someone who does good deeds and helps other people. That’s a pretty good definition, and makes me think of the Bible verses about governing authorities in 1 Peter 2:13-17. That definition of hero doesn’t leave room for most athletes and entertainment celebrities, though. After we defined what makes a hero, two more groups of people were added to our list of real-life heroes: parents and missionaries.
For these children, the definition of a hero was
someone who does good deeds
and helps other people.
People are always looking for a hero. One reason people look for heroes is because we are searching for models to follow and imitate. While we can follow the story line of make-believe characters and dress in costumes for a while, we cannot do what they do with their imaginary powers. We can however imitate real life heroes like firemen and missionaries after studying their training and pursuing a similar path. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) See also Hebrews 13:7 and 3 John 1:11.
People are looking for heroes to give them hope that good will conquer evil. And when heroes reach their goal and accomplish their task, we want to cheer! That’s part of what makes the story line of heroic quest so popular.
Every story line falls into one of three categories:
boy meets girl, man who learns better, and heroic quest.
By the way, the three story lines are found throughout the Bible, too, because the Bible is one great big, true-life storybook. There are many smaller stories throughout Scripture that include boy meets girl (including Adam and Eve, and Ruth and Boaz), man who learns better (Nebuchadnezzar and David), and individual heroic quests (Israel takes the Promised Land in Joshua and Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts). But what is its single overarching story line? From our human perspective, we might be tempted to say that salvation is about every person who learns better, repents from their sins and believes in Jesus Christ. But I think that might be looking at it from the wrong side. The greatest story ever told is a heroic quest where God is the hero seeking and saving the lost until He accomplishes His will!
God certainly fulfills my class’s definition of a hero because He is good and loves people. While we cannot duplicate God’s power, we enjoy its benefits. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and teach wisdom which we can read about and follow by obeying Him. And ultimately, God conquers evil, so we can praise and worship Him!
For fun, feel free to listen to or purchase my husband’s Sunday School song, God is the Hero!
How do you define a hero? Who are some of your real-life heroes? Comment on this blog and take this opportunity to thank your heroes here!