Friday, July 13, 2007

If I were king of the forest...

Cowardly Lion: Courage.
What makes a King out of a slave? Courage.
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage.
What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage.
What makes the dawn come up like THUNDER?! Courage.
What makes the Hottentot so hot?
What puts the "ape" in ape-ricot?
Whatta they got that I ain't got?
Dorothy and Friends: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again!

Just like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, I think we all have it in us to be brave when we need to. You hear stories of mothers who run into burning buildings to save their child or sons and daughters going off to war to face an powerful enemy that threatens their families. We find that our loved ones’ lives are so important to us that we risk our own lives to keep them out of danger. Even though it’s difficult to imagine putting ourselves in harm’s way, we’d do it willingly, without hesitation, courageously for our loved ones.

Well, if God told us to love our neighbors, aren’t we all each other’s loved ones? And yet I’m not putting myself in any real risk for anyone else’s well being. I give money to organizations that do that, but I’m not doing it. I’m not walking in those shoes, the shoes Jesus would wear if He were here right now.

I’m reading an excellent and convicting book called “Good News about Injustice” by Gary Haugen, the president of the International Justice Mission whose goal is to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). I am so encouraged by this book which honestly discusses the unrelenting injustices happening right now in this world while at the same time giving us hope by pointing us to Scripture that describes a God who is Just.

I was particularly moved by the introduction by the author in which he reveals that he has four children and has been trying to figure out what core gift that he wants to give them to take into the world. He says that more and more he has been praying that his children be men and women of courage. He says that courage “is an odd gift because it’s one we rarely think we’ll need or want.”

In his introduction, Gary Haugen quotes one of my favorite writers, C.S. Lewis, from his book The Screwtape Letters, which says,

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every
virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest
reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger
will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate
was merciful till it became risky.

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