Today, Saturday, was the sad occasion of the funeral for a remarkable man who took centre stage in Britain and around the world in the last year of his life. It wasn’t that he would celebrate his 100th birthday, or that he was a veteran of the Second World War. It was a humble gesture, the willingness of a frail elderly man with a walker at ninety nine years of age to ‘do something’ to help during Covid.
“I’ll walk 100 laps in the back garden to raise money,” he said. “Perhaps we can raise one thousand pounds, wouldn’t that be great?”
Captain Sir Tom Moore is now a household name around the world. Nearly forty million pounds have been raised in his name. A man, as unknown and ordinary as you could imagine, living in a humble home with his daughter’s family, shot like a meteor into our awareness with no hype or desire for fame on his part. He inspired and encouraged a nation during a time of fear, Covid lockdown, and no doubt millions of individuals with private and personal battles.
People like Captain Tom inspire me. I tend toward ‘glass half empty’ pragmatism at times, despite my best intentions. So when he speaks of being an ‘optimist always’ my heart leaps. I love those people with a ‘can do’ mindset who see the glass half full, silver linings on every dark cloud, and ‘tomorrow will be a better day’. People like him remind us of hope and encourage us to take hold of whatever is at hand to make a difference. Here’s an interview with his daughter:
Jesus is the most hope filled person I’ve ever known. And while I’m always leaning into him to find my life, my purpose, and my life, it certainly also helps to meet people who embody that quality of joyful, bright side, faith. There have been a few in my life and they shine brighter than they’ll ever know. I’m not sure about you, but for me it’s often been easier to be inspiring for other people than to have that same confidence when it comes to myself. I’m way better than I used to be, but it’s not intuitive. I think that’s another, of the many reasons, why we need one another.
Captain Sir Tom spoke to the common cry of everyone’s heart for good news, hope, meaning, and purpose. Courage in the face of fear, and contribution, however small or modest in a time of crisis.
Such people are hidden everywhere and most remain anonymous to the wider world. They are what keeps the world a better place and for the most part, they are blissfully unaware. God celebrates such people and talks about rewards in heaven that may well catch many by surprise. The ones anticipating a deafening applause may be humbled by who is raised up in heaven for what they have done on earth.
Jesus heaped praise on the woman who gave her ‘widow’s mite’ to the temple treasury in Jerusalem – no-one else saw – or cared. Anna (she was very old), held the baby Jesus in her arms after sixty years or more of faithfully praying there – out of sight – but God saw. The little boy who shared his lunch with Jesus on the hills of Galilee to feed five thousand. The shepherd boy alone on the hills who was anointed King David. The Roman centurion who sent a messenger for Jesus to heal his servant and who said he was not worthy. The woman with an ‘issue of blood’ pressing through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment to be healed. The thief on the cross beside Jesus crying, “Remember me.”
Perhaps some of us need a nudge of encouragement today. Those who feel somewhat insignificant, hidden, perhaps even unappreciated. Those who find more meaning looking back rather than anticipating their future. “You never know.” Remember those who have gone before who didn’t have much but used what was at hand anyway. “I only have a sandwich”, “I only have a sling with a few stones”, “I need a walker to help me shuffle around.”
If God’s eyes roam the world and he knows every hair on your head (or lack thereof), and not a sparrow falls to the ground without him noticing….. Be assured that his eyes rest upon you and me as I write and you read this little blog. Be assured that life isn’t over and who knows what is around the corner, over the crest of the hill, or wrapped up in tomorrow. Believe for what you do not yet see. I’m just talking to myself here :-). It helps to declare, to write, to be reminded.
Thank you Captain Sir Tom for the life you lived and the humble hope you shared. No doubt, like us, you were far from perfect, but that is of no consequence. What matters is that you lived with hope, and you shared your walker and shuffling footsteps with the world, and in so doing accomplished far more than you could ever have dreamed or imagined.
And thank you Jesus, that you see and you care. You’re not trapped in our skewed values and celebrity mentality. You break through walls, you push aside gravestones, you walk on water, you stop for the blind on the side of the road, and you therefore see and hear me. So take hold of your walker, butter that sandwich, walk that trail, or make that five dollar contribution. Perhaps you will be the next Sir Captain Tom blazoned across the internet and world media and we will be in awe and inspired once again – and if not here, then definitely in heaven!