Journey to Oz-6: Into the Storm Cellar

July 13, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

For those of you keeping score at home, I believe I’ll recap where we’ve been…

The question in all of this “Journey to Oz” stuff is simply this:

Do you have courage? Are you courageous and brave and heroic?

If you answered “yes”, then you probably can stop reading. My sense, though, is that most of us long to be more courageous and brave and heroic in all the different areas of our life. I know I do.

As we’ve pondered this question—and try to uncover some values to help us become more courageous and brave and heroic—we’ve already hit upon two principles:


BELIEVE the Truth




REJECT all Lies

You can see from my lovely little box that I put these two principles in the “Brain-Head” area. Like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz we are searching for right thinking. This makes sense for two reasons: 1) God created us as rational, thinking beings; 2) our actions often result from our thinking. Many times in Scripture, Paul talks about what we think and how important that is in whom we are and what we do. In Romans12 he says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2). Our thinking plays an important part in our transformation into what God has created us to be.

But, how do we move from our head to our heart and then to our hands and feet?

Well, I’d like to share a story that may helps us review a bit and then move us to a third important principle to becoming brave and courageous people of God.


The Story

When I was about 7 years old I lived in a place called Cedar Rapids, Iowa (yes, Iowa). We lived in a pretty rural area (which could have been surmised since it was IOWA!). Across the street from our house there was an abandoned farmhouse.

Now if you have never been a 7 year old boy—or haven’t been around any 7 year old boys—you don’t realize the incredible potential an abandoned house represents. There are windows to throw rocks at, you can run around the yard without any fear of retribution and it is an irresistible “fort” or “hideout” of “club”. But there is another side to an abandoned house: it is also spooky. A 7 year old’s imagination can really be active around an abandoned house.

This happened to me one summer evening as my friends and I were playing around the house. I found myself approaching the “storm cellar”. You may or may not know what a “storm cellar” is (and perhaps I’m not even calling it the right thing), so let me explain. A “storm cellar” is a room in the ground that is accessed by a large heavy wooden or metal door. The storm cellar for our abandoned house was about 30 yards from the house itself—and it was strictly “off limits” to us. Our parents probably made the rule for safety reasons—but they didn’t really need to because we were all scared to death of the “storm cellar.

See, one of the reasons an abandoned house was fun was because it was spooky. It took courage to approach it (always in the daytime—we would never go there at night… we were young, but not stupid!). We’d dare each other to perform certain tasks around the house and had a ball carrying out these quasi-military operations. But the storm cellar was never even considered. It was just too darn scary! Until… Until I decided that I would look in the storm cellar

My friends were speechless when I announced my daring intentions. With a combination of awe and amazement and incredulousness (SAT word! 10 bonus points), they watched me head to the storm cellar. About 5 steps into my journey I came to my senses and realized that my mouth had just committed my body to an action I was really incapable of completing without ruining my pants in the process (a trend that has continued my entire life!). But there was no turning back (I discovered this after I did turn back and heard one friend say, “I knew it—Dougie can’t do it.”). So, I walked to the huge metal door and stood there, motionless for a moment.

Then I reached down and opened the door a fast as a pudgy 7 year old boy can… Then I looked down into the darkness. Because of the setting sun, half of my view of the cellar was in dim sunlight and the other half in shadow. I could see an old table and chair. Looks innocent enough. That when I saw movement… In the shadows… Something—no—someone was moving away from the light deeper into the shadows!

I slammed the door shut and ran as fast as I could (which immediately caused my friends to bolt as well). Like a bunch of gazelles we engaged in the time-honored tradition of “every man for himself”. I ran straight home. And I was scared. It had happened. I had seen a ghost. (Cue dramatic music)

When I made it across the street, I went straight to the authorities (my mom and dad) and recounted the event in great detail. I was probably hysterical. My mother comforted me (as mothers are wont to do), while my father explained that there are no such things as ghosts (as fathers are wont to do… I just noticed that “wont” is a funny word, isn’t it?).

And so, I came face-to-face with my first dispute about truth (at least the first one I can recall). I believed I saw a ghost; my dad believed that I did not. Someone was right and someone was wrong.

But my dad was wise enough to know that this was an important learning moment in my life. A time to teach his son about truth and courage and… life. A time to BELIEVE THE TRUTH and REJECT ALL LIES (either that or he was just bored). So he presented a plan. We would go back to look in the cellar together and see who was right.

After my parents revived me (I believe my heart stopped when I heard his plan), I explained that I did not see the logic and value behind pursuing the matter any further (this was done with a lot of crying and shaking and nose blowing). After all, I had watched enough Scooby Doo Mysteries to know that chasing ghosts could be very dangerous. However, he was quite insistent (as fathers are wont to be). He improved on the plan by saying my big brother would come along and we would all arm ourselves with Louisville Sluggers (that is a brand of baseball bat).

Reluctantly, I agreed. I don’t remember much about the walk to the storm cellar. I do know that it had gotten dark (oh goody) and that I was very (VERY) scared. But, flanked by my dad and big brother and clutching the heavy wooden weapon, I proceeded onward.

I could draw this story out—those who have read previous entries can attest to that. But I won’t. There was no ghost. The truth was that the cellar was empty.

I did not want to face my fear of the cellar. But I am glad that I did. If my dad hadn’t of done what he did—the fear probably would have grown (remember, I was just 7). But it didn’t. It didn’t because I was able to BELIEVE THE TRUTH. But here’s the point: I could never have distinguished the difference between the TRUTH and the LIE with out this principle…


ACT in spite of Fear


I had to act even though I didn’t want to. I had to act even though I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

But I never would have acted alone. I never would have even thought of that plan on my own!… I never would have gone back to the cellar unless my father led me there. Unless he promised to protect me. Unless he assured me I could depend on his strength (and baseball bat). Unless I trusted him because of who he is and what he has already done in my life. Unless my father was faithful. Unless I believed that he had my best interests at heart.

The Bible tells us about our Father. It reveals his character, strength, love, power, knowledge. It talks of his promises and faithfulness. From beginning to end, it is a story of what God has done, is doing, and will do. And as God’s children—based on our belief in Jesus Christ and what he did at the cross—he will continue to lead and teach us… Even if we are unsure; even if we are afraid. And you will never believe that truth until you experience it in your life… and you will never experience it until you act in spite of fear.