My Word of the Year
Whenever I hear the word courage, I think of the lion from The Wizard of Oz, trembling and kind of annoying, and really, I never felt bad for him. I always found him the least likable of the characters, and I think its because his fearful spirit is in such contrast to the potential of a lion’s spirit. And perhaps I see a bit of myself in him. Or a lot.
Emily Freeman talks about him in her book Graceful (which I just finished going through with a group of freshman girls from youth group-we all loved it). Courage was a part of the lion the entire time, he just didn’t know that he had it. The cowardly lion finally realized his courage when he had to save Dorothy. He was so caught up in the life of his friend that he stepped outside of himself for a moment. Perhaps this illustrates Jesus’ words in Luke 9:24, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
Perhaps this is courage. Not hanging on tightly to a thread of self preservation, but letting go of our comfort, control, and fear long enough to realize what was there all along. A strength and a love that becomes our courage. A Savior that knows our own efforts to be valiant are tired and need his breath of victory.
If you read through Scripture with the intent to understand courage, one thing becomes apparent. It’s a command. Be strong and courageous, be strong and of good courage, do not fear, do not be afraid. It feels a little overwhelming, the thought that God expects us to muster up some sort of bravery. But by now, I know better than that. I know that when God says, “Be courageous!” there is always a promise, “For I will be with you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:3-9, 1 Chronicles 28:20, Isaiah 41:10). I’m coming to learn that I don’t bring my courage to God, I get it from God. I bring my weary life and He gives abundant life. But, oh, the courage it takes to give up a weary life.