We all love heroes. But true heroes do not don capes, leap buildings, have titanium claws, or sling webs. True heroes often do ordinary, yet extraordinary work. True heroes do not look for glory or dream of who will play them in the next summer blockbuster. True heroes are humble servants who care more about the interest of others than themselves. They are generous. They are kind. They make a real difference.
My friend John Robb was such a hero. John went home to heaven on Sunday, July 13, 2014. The Lord shared him with us for 90 years. For sixty of those years John was committed to the cause of equal justice under law. We have posted John’s life as told through his obituary on our press page. We also posted after that article John’s final letter which was his final work on Friday afternoon before his death. That letter was a call from heaven to be generous and share our resources with those in need by investing in the work of justice for the poor and needy through Gospel Justice Initiative.
John was a true hero. But true heroes are ordinary men and women. John used the gifts he had been given as a lawyer to make a difference. We all can.
When John visited our family my sons would pull out the Parcheesi board. John claimed not to know how to play. He would stroll over in his walker. Sit and smile. Then he would ruthlessly wipe my kids off the board, a reminder of the trial lawyer in him. My sons thought it great fun as we always celebrated afterward at Dairy Queen.
John loved his wife Peggy of 68 years and missed her dearly as she slipped from this Earth in May. He loved his six kids and all the grandkids and great grandkids. He loved his home in Albuquerque and sitting and watching the Cranes come into the back yard. He loved the family trips to Shelter Island where he served as Admiral to a motley crew who shared his competitive spirit for racing and for arguing in the admiralty court they would hold after the race to listen to complaints. John loved life.
John also loved people. He and I visited Joy Junction together which is a homeless shelter in Albuquerque. We sat and talked with a middle aged man from Texas who had lost his job and in embarrassment left his wife. He ran into some minor criminal issues and began drinking as a way to deaden the pain. He found himself homeless and without hope. John shared the love of Jesus with this man. We let him know how to resolve the legal issues and encouraged him to return home. With tears in his eyes he promised that he would. We prayed together and John’s smile lit up the room as he embraced the man. John was at home with the homeless.
Heroes are ordinary people who allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish extraordinary things through them. John led many people to faith in Christ. John solved many legal problems. He prayed many prayers and encouraged thousands. And through it all John always gave the glory to Christ. True heroes always do. John humbly received numerous awards for his work. He is chronicled in several books. But for me he was a friend. John and I spoke and prayed together for hours at least once a week for the past several years. True heroes are ordinary people who take the time to build into others.
I am certainly a better Christ follower for having spent time with a true hero. John was a deep man of faith. He loved God and he loved his neighbor. He will be missed but not forgotten. The best thing we can do to honor the heroes in our life is to commit ourselves to follow them as they followed Christ. I will gladly follow in the big footsteps left behind by my friend until the day when I join him in heaven and hear those words he heard so clearly – “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Until then I still have work to do and I’ll commit to listening to those other words of Jesus to love my neighbor, do justice, show mercy and “Go and Do Likewise.”