As a kid, I remember watching The Wizard of Oz. However, I didn’t like it that much. A film from 1939 could not compete with a seven-year-old boy in 1977 when I was immersed in a galaxy far, far away. The Wizard of Oz had some good characters, but, to me, they were no match for Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and a huge Wookie. The Wicked Witch of the East was a decent villain, but she was no Darth Vader.
As an adult, however, I have come to value the characters of The Wizard of Oz and have developed an appreciation for their personal stories. It is incredible how much of our own lives intersect with their different journeys.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Toto are following the yellow brick road when they suddenly become worried about encountering wild animals – especially “lions and tigers and bears!”
As they skip down the yellow brick road a few more yards, a fierce looking lion begins pouncing and roaring at them. The Lion challenges the Tin Man and Scarecrow to a fight. The Lion continues to trash talk them until Dorothy gives him a good slap on the face. All of a sudden, the “mask” comes off, and the Lion reveals what is truly in his heart – fear, worry, and timidity.
“I am a coward,” says the Lion. “My life has simply been unbearable . . . It has been in me so long . . .”
The Lion had lost his courage.
A cowardly lion – what a tragedy! That goes against the very identity of who a lion is to be. Lions are to be fierce and fearless. They are expected to be “the kings of all beasts.”
The Lion had lost his true identity.
The Struggle to Live Courageously
I can relate to the Cowardly Lion. Many times, I have worn the mask of boldness, appearing to be courageous on the outside, while my heart is filled with fear, anxiety, or stress. At times I have lost my courage.
For some, it takes a lot of courage simply to get out of bed and to face the day. The onslaught of daily troubles can war against us and overwhelm us.
Many believers battle financial fears. The anxiety of how we will pay for bills that are stacking up on the desk just beats us down. We struggle with how we can provide the items our family needs.
For others, the stress of work can be defeating: we go to jobs that we don’t enjoy, we find ourselves working twice as hard, making half our former income, we have managers who do not support us and continuously tear us down.
The pressure and tensions of our jobs strip us of our courage.
Many people battle the heavy burdens of relationships. Marriages are crumbling. Parents are aging and becoming less able to take care of themselves. The worry of being single forever looms in our minds. Relationships with our children which once thrived are now feeling fragmented. The fear of being alone and the unknown haunts us. We want to retreat and give up.
As people cross our paths, we quickly try to put on a lion’s mask – seeking to appear to be bold and courageous. However, we have lost our identity as bold and courageous followers of Jesus.
What Is Courage?
As Joshua assumed the role of leading Israel into the Promised Land after Moses’ death, God’s opening conversation with Joshua centered on courage. Three times God instructed Joshua to be courageous. God concluded His talk with Joshua by stating, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
The most significant need in Joshua’s life was the courage to lead the people of Israel forward.
I believe the crucial need in our own lives is also courage so that we may move forward in the calling and purposes of God.
Courage is synonymous with bravery and fortitude. The word courage comes from the French root cour or coeur, which means “heart.”
Boldness is a courageous heart that is not bound and controlled by fear, worry, or anxiety.
Being bold does not mean we do not experience fear. Rather, boldness means we do not allow fear to control our thoughts or actions. To be bold means we step into our fears.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is facing our fears head-on.
It is choosing to do what is right. It is following the Spirit wherever He leads us. It is not letting our hearts be troubled by trusting our Heavenly Father.
As children of God, our boldness is an overflow of our confident trust in God, His character, and His word.
Be Strong and Courageous!
Our stories are often like the story of the Lion in The Wizard of Oz. We too are on a journey to rediscover our true identity – to once again be bold, Spirit-filled followers of Jesus who do not turn back or retreat. Instead, we move forward in faith, courageously overcoming the trials, hardships, and pressures of life.
The good news is that we do not need to follow a yellow brick road and search for an elusive Wizard to rediscover our courage. We merely need to know and walk in our Spiritual identity – “The righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1b).
Here are a few truths I am learning about being bold as a child of God and living courageously:
- Our courage comes by putting our trust and hope in God.
“So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!” (Psalm 31:24, NLT)
- We walk in boldness when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31b, ESV)
- When we know that God is always with us, we can choose to be courageous.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)
- Our boldness grows as we spend time with Jesus.
“On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:3, NASB95)
- We have the strength and courage to face opposition when we realize that Almighty God is fighting for us!
“Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed . . . for the one with us is greater than the one with him.” (2 Chronicles 32:7, NASB95)
Walk in your identity. Be bold as a lion and live courageously!