When you think of courage, you might be reminded of the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. Every year the film continues to be played on TV.
In the movie, the Lion felt he needed courage because he was afraid in the face of danger. This is not what is expected of the King of the Beasts. Lions are supposed to be ferocious not fearful. So, the Cowardly Lion wanted to see the Wizard of Oz hoping that somehow the Wizard would give him courage. But, when he finally appeared before the Wizard, he did not receive courage but was pinned with a cross-shaped medal that already honored him with it.
The Wizard said,
As for you my fine friend, you are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate delusion that simply because you run away from danger you have no courage. You are confusing courage with wisdom. Back where I come from we have men called heroes. Once a year they take their fortitude out of moth balls and parade it down the main street of the city. And they have no more courage than you have. But they have one thing that you haven’t got—a medal. Therefore, for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valor, and conspicuous bravery against wicked witches I award you the triple cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage.
The Wizard recognized the Lion for having already demonstrated courage. He was bestowed with a medal to show it. The Lion was left speechless. No longer did the Lion believe that he didn’t have courage. He just needed to believe in himself.
From this scene, we are reminded that courage is not something we go out and get. We just need to accept the fact that courage is within all of us if we dare to use it when it’s needed.
It doesn’t always take dangerous situations to need courage. Not all situations are life-threatening. Sometimes it takes courage just to say, “No” even when others say, “Yes.”
The story is told that some Army, Air Force, and Marine Generals were standing in front of a rappelling tower with a Navy Admiral. The Air Force General says to the others, “My men are the most courageous of the Armed Forces.”
“Ha!”, said Army, “My men are the most courageous and I’ll prove it.”
Army calls a Private over from the tower. He tells the Private, “I want you to jump off that tower- no rope, no parachute.”
“Yes, Sir!!!”, the Private yells and proceeds to climb the tower. The Private walks to the edge, yells “Hoo-ahh!”, and jumps off the tower. He is killed instantly upon impact.
“That’s nothing,” the Air Force General said, bored. He calls a Senior Airman over. “Son, I want you to jump off that tower- no rope, no parachute. And I want you to do it with style.”
“Yes, Sir!!!”, the Senior Airman yells. He climbs to the top of the tower, walks to the edge and jumps. He executes a swan dive that would make Greg Louganis proud, hits the ground and dies on impact.
“Hmmph,” the Marine growled. “Ya’ll obviously forgot the Marine Corps was here”, he said (yelling “Marine Corps!” as all Marines tend to do.) He calls a Lance Corporal over.
“Marine, I want you to jump off that tower and make the Corps proud!”
The Corporal yells, “Ooh-rah!”, by way of response and runs to the tower. He grabs an M-60 and ammunition belt on the way and wraps the belt around himself in the Pancho Villa style. He climbs the tower and walks to the edge. Upon reaching the edge, he throws two grenades into the air, yells “Semper Fi Do or Die!”, and jumps off. He starts shooting the M-60 in mid- air, clipping treetops and yelling the entire way down. His impact is obscured by the two exploding grenades. When the smoke clears, only little pieces of the Marine are left. The others are impressed and nod their heads in admiration.
Then the Admiral says, “That’s nothing”. The others turn to face the Admiral, their faces in disbelief.
The Admiral calls a Seaman over who was cleaning latrines. “Son, I want you to jump off that tower- no rope, no parachute.”
The Seaman looks the Admiral in the face and says, “Do it yourself, stupid!” As the Seaman walks off, the Admiral turns to the others and says, “Now THAT’S courage!”
Courage is really common sense in action. Common sense says to stand fast in the faith: “Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong,” (1 Corinthians 16:13, New English Translation, NET). Unbelievers try to persuade us that we are out of touch. They want us to think that if we don’t think like them or if we don’t do as they do then we are weak and spineless. On the contrary, they are the ones who are weak and spineless always following the ways of the world. We can take courage knowing that our strength is in following the ways of the Lord no matter how unpopular that might be. And we not only know it, we show it.
Isaiah 51:7 says, “Listen to me, you who know what is right, you people who are aware of my law! Don’t be afraid of the insults of men; don’t be discouraged because of their abuse!” (Isaiah 51:7, NET).
Prosperity, success, happiness, is the courage to apply the instructions of the Lord without giving in to our personal fears or worries. In First Chronicles 22 King David shared his most cherished vision with his son Solomon who was heir to the throne. He said to his son that he wanted to build a temple to the Lord. But the Lord would not permit him to do so because David was a warrior who spilled much blood in establishing his kingdom. Building a temple for the Lord was to be handed over to Solomon when he was to take the throne. So David said to Solomon,
“Now, my son, may the Lord be with you! May you succeed and build a temple for the Lord your God, just as he announced you would. Only may the Lord give you insight and understanding when he places you in charge of Israel, so you may obey the law of the Lord your God. Then you will succeed, if you carefully obey the rules and regulations which the Lord ordered Moses to give to Israel. Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic!” (vss. 11-13, TEV).
Courage and obedience to the Lord go hand in hand. As we anticipate another year, we need to remind ourselves of this truth. It will grant us the ability to overcome the temptations, worries, and challenges we face everyday. For courage is not the absence of fear but trusting the Lord in the presence of fear. It will help get us to the promise land of God’s coming kingdom which we seek to enter at Jesus’ return.
After Moses died the Lord called on Joshua to lead Israel into the promise land saying,
“Make sure you are very strong and brave! Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or to the left, so that you may be successful in all you do. This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do,” (Joshua 1:7-9, NET).
We don’t need to be like the Cowardly Lion. We don’t have to doubt our ability to have courage. The Legion of Courage cross awarded the Lion in the movie illustrates the courage we have through the cross of Christ. With the cross before us we leave the world behind us and move forward with the courage to let him change our lives. Our courage is in the Lord.
God himself encourages us with this promise:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you!
Don’t be frightened, for I am your God!
I strengthen you—
yes, I help you—
yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!” (Isaiah 41:10, NET)
Here’s a song by Don Moen that will inspire you with courage (click on the following link):
Good News to you!
And may God grant you a most blessed New Year!