Journey to Oz–1

May 16, 2007 by · 12 Comments 

Introduction

I know, I know… It’s an old movie. My kids probably don’t have a clue about Dorothy and Auntie Em and The Wicked Witch of the (was it West? Or East?).

But I found myself thinking about the movie The Wizard of Oz this morning. It’s a great story. Dorothy gets “lost” and is trying to find her way “home”. She embarks on a “journey” looking for “answers”, looking for “truth”. It’s a story that evokes a lot of words worthy of “quotation marks”.

Along the way, Dorothy encounters fellow travelers (a Scarecrow, Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion) who— in their brokenness (in fact, because of their brokenness)—join her in the excursion.

You know the story… Because you live the story.

Why am I thinking about The Wizard of Oz? Good question. So…

Check it out, dog (props to Randy Jackson—I have young daughters so American Idol is a big deal in our house).

Like Dorothy, we’re on a journey; we’re trying to find our way home; we’re looking for answers and truth (we are, right? Or is it just me?) Like Dorothy’s pals, we often feel brainless, heartless, and gutless.

This would be okay if I just didn’t have to admit it.

In my 42 years, I have become rather skilled in hiding these deficient traits from others. I am an accomplished actor. I have just enough education to sound smart (although my 12 year old daughter would heartily disagree). I can do just enough nice stuff for people to appear kind, giving, and loving. And I have mastered the ability to take enough calculated stands to come across as brave (at least brave enough not to be called a coward).

But that’s just the outside. That’s just what people see. Here’s the problem…

Problem #1 (how do you like that creative name for this first problem?):

Our outside is not what makes us tick.

Our outside isn’t who we really are, is it? The freshly waxed car can be gleaming, but if the head gasket is blown, it ain’t much of a vehicle (although I am not a “car guy” in any way, shape, or form—I do know about blown head gaskets… see: car, my old cruddy one).

Whether we like it or not, the wisdom of age reveals to us that the inside shapes the outside (see: beauty, only skin deep)—although we often live like it’s the other way around.

Here’s another problem…

Problem # 2:

I read the Bible.

Now before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not saying that it’s bad to read the Bible (see: Bible, The Good Book). What I’m saying is this: When I read the Bible, I come face to face with truths that force me to admit that I’m brainless, heartless, and gutless.

If I read scripture openly and honestly, my acting ability loses its power. Because the Bible is an inside thing. It bypasses the physical and hits the spiritual. It reveals, examines, critiques, uplifts, mends, and dissects the soul.

So what is a brainless, heartless, gutless, journeying traveler to do?

Well, like Dorothy, travel with others…

The Discussion

With all of this in mind, I want to invite you to join a discussion. It’s a discussion I have been involved in for some time and—most recently—a discussion I’ve been engaged in with my friend Scott. Scott and I decided to invite ya’ll to join us. He’s reading this blog (Hi Scott!) in Phoenix, Arizona. I expect he’ll chime in through the “comments” section (unless he is so confused by my Wizard of Oz ramblings that he has no idea what I’m talking about!) But we want you to comment as well.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again—don’t be afraid to participate. In fact, I will remind you of the Rules of Engagement for blogging…

Rules of Engagement:

1) There are no rules.

2) You don’t have to write a lot (just because I ramble endlessly—it doesn’t mean you have to!).

3) You will not be graded. (You may, however, be asked for clarification on something you say—but that’s not a bad thing… see: discussion, a)

4) Limit personal attacks to Boy Bands, the General Manager of the Miami Dolphins, and government officials nicknamed “Kipper”

5) Disregard “Rule #4”—I just thought it was funny… I loved Menudo and I don’t know a politician named “Kipper” (feel free to gripe about the Dolphins though)

6) Remember, you do have something to say—and we actually need to hear it.

7) There can be no more than 7 rules

 

Okay… Here we go. (You ready?)

Ladies and gentlemen… our first topic. I call it…

The Plight of the Cowardly Lion

Courage is a good thing, right? We honor it, recognize it, and reward it. Ever since we were little kids, we have been enthralled by heroic tales of bravery, guts, nerve, valor, daring, and audacity (man!—I wish I had a computer Thesaurus when I was writing papers in school!).

Cervantes said: He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses his courage loses all.” (You may be wondering, “Who is Cervantes anyway?”… I don’t know—I think he was a shortstop in the Astros organization in the late 70’s—but that’s a good quote, huh?)

Here’s my question: Do you have courage? Are you courageous and brave and heroic?

If you answered “yes”, then how did you get your courage? Where does it come from?

See, I would like to be brave and courageous… I’m just not sure that I know how to be.

The Bible is full of stories about courage and bravery. Heroic characters abound. Perhaps there are some answers there… Yet when I look at the heroes—Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Gideon, David, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Mary, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Paul (just to name a few)—I see a mixture of character. Heroism and fear. Bravery and cowardice. Victory and failure.

What is the common thread?

I’ll simply start with this: God wants his people to have courage. He wants us to be brave. I was reminded of that this morning when I read Joshua chapter 1 (do you like how I just dropped it in that I was reading my Bible and stumbled across this… My, my, my I’m a spiritual dude, huh?… Truth is I was looking for something on “courage” for this blog and remembered this). This is God talking to Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites after Moses died (I underlined to emphasize my point):

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. [7] Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. [8] Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. [9] Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9)

God is pretty clear with Joshua here. And I think he’s pretty clear with us. Be strong and courageous!

So, that’s the “command”… Now, how do we obey it?

Here are the specific questions on my mind…

Where does this courage, boldness, bravery come from?

  • How do we muster it up?
  • How do we get it?
  • How do we hold onto it?

How can we be BRAVE in life?

  • Regardless of our circumstances
  • Regardless of our limitations
  • Regardless of our failures
  • Regardless of the actions or inaction of others

If we can answer these questions, I believe that we can discover a whole new way to live. It will change everything.

So tie an old towel around your neck. Leap around like the superhero you always dreamed about and let the journey begin…

Grace and peace,

Doug

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Comments

12 Responses to “Journey to Oz–1”
  1. Katie says:

    I think the times when I have been courageous or brave (seems audacious to even write that about myself!) are the times when I have finally dropped any pretense of being able to handle “it” (whatever “it” is at that moment) and lurched forward, usually not too gracefully in faith that God is who He said He is, that He’s here and that His goodness if for me.

    The funny thing is that in the moment I usually didn’t feel very brave – I felt more like I had stepped into the eye of the storm…a place that is strangely peaceful and calm and quiet (insert OT references here – someone on a cliff – can’t remember who – finally hearing God in the quiet not the fire or wind).

    My bravery is more about stepping out into who God is than stepping up to any proverbial plate with my meager resources.

    All “caped up” and ready to go into God’s goodness…

    🙂 Katie

  2. John Koehler says:

    Courage can easily mistaken for stupidity, and hard to tell the difference sometimes. I like to think that if God truly does love us like he says, and if Jesus wasn’t telling lies about the lillies of the field and how much God loves the birds and how much more he’ll care for us…

    Well, if all that is true, and I reckon it is, then there’s no choice but for us to be fearless and self assured. Walk bodly with all the armor of God on, his word in your heart, and a smile on your face. What could happen?

    You die?

    So then we’ll get to meet the gipper. No worries, be happy, be brave. Quit whinin’. God’s on your side, lighting your path.

    Rock on.

  3. Tracy LoAlbo says:

    Courage doesn’t mean that we are not afraid or unsure. I think that this is where faith comes in. If we step out in faith and be obedient to Him then our courage is just a bit stronger than it was the last time. We are all human and I think that being frightened at times is just a human reaction. BUT, if we keep our eyes focused on Christ our courage will continue to grow and our lives will be blessed by the one who will always hold us in His arms.

  4. rex hamaker says:

    i think courage is the spiritual muscle that is fed by faith to to enable us to be led in the direction that god needs us to go. it is an acquired sense that only comes from learning to rely not on ones self but relying on the belief that god is in control.

  5. Sandra says:

    Thanks for inviting us in, Doug and Scott. I have been on a courage quest myself. Earlier this week, I determined that I need to reprogram my brain. There’s a lot of junk up there and I find myself brainless, heartless, and gutless often as well. So I set out to write a bunch of affirmations that would help me think differently. These verses changed my focus.

    Courage is KNOWING WHO is WITH me.

    It is the theme all through this passage. Just prior to those verses in Joshua 1:5 it says, “Just as I was with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” And then it is how things are summed up….”Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

    It was how the Israelites were trained in warfare. Deuteronomy 20:1-4 “When you go out in battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you…..Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

    It is repeated over and over in the Old and New Testaments, “the Lord, your God, will be with you….”

    Key #1: THE LORD is WITH me. This is great and true, but NOT sufficient. If we don’t know who God is, then it is no different than Sparky or Sophie being with me (no offense Haupt’s or LoAlbo’s, but I wouldn’t find comfort in walking into any difficult situation with your canines).

    Key #2: KNOWING THE LORD. We read about him and see Him in action in Scripture. But an amazing thing happens when we start delving into Scripture, learning book knowledge of God. Our vision becomes clear with the truth and we start seeing Him in our life. This is where the next key comes in.

    Key #3: the Lord, YOUR GOD, will be with you. When we know there is a God, get to know the truth about who He is in Scripture, and then see Him at work in our own lives, we realize he is personal. He’s MY God. Look what he did for me!! That’s when the fireworks fly! That’s when our chest swells! That’s when my shoulders stand tall and my chin is up….not because I feel so strong, but I know that God has just reached down and touched my life. He has given me a glimpse into the window of heaven. Your kingdom has come on earth as it is in heaven. And it is wonderful and amazing and I could do anything, because I know Who’s by my side. And He’s my Father!

    Here’s the caveat. And then I woke up…..its a new day. Things are different. Life is easier today….I got it covered, and God isn’t anywhere to be seen. I forget. God who? God what? God when? It’s all so far away. All through Deuteronomy read these words: “DO NOT FORGET THE LORD YOUR GOD.” Look and pray for fresh glimpses of heaven. Talk about Him (THE LORD, YOUR GOD) and what He’s done. Journal about it. BLOG about it. Teach it to your children. Create a new holiday. Talk to your friends. Praise Him over and over. Whatever you do, DON’T FORGET. That mental discipline – KNOWING THE LORD, MY GOD, IS WITH ME – is the training for that MOMENT when courage will hang in the balance and we won’t need to muster it up because one thought of all the memories of what THE LORD, MY GOD, has done is going to bring a barrage of courage. In fact, Father is walking beside me and after all the things I’ve seen Him do, this ain’t nothin’!

  6. Nate Scholz says:

    I think courage is a funny concept. We use it to describe a lack of fear in a situation which most people would find fearful. The things that we think are fearful are subjective though, aren’t they? For whatever reason, someone may have no fear of a situation like fighting in a war, but be terrified to confront his daughter’s bulemia. We are all cowards and we are all heroes in some form, I think. To label someone as couragous, depends on that person’s confrontation with the things that s/he actually fears.

    I survived the Israeli bombing of South Lebanon in 2006, and “courageously” drove my family to safety to Beirut under fire. In reality, I was very fearful for the safety of my wife and children, and responding to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and to my friend, whose leadership I had submitted to. Survival and obedience are words that better describe what some have described as courage in my situtation.

  7. Hilda Gore says:

    Hey, Doug and Scott! Thanks for posting these thoughts. I have been taking a deep look inside lately and am embarrassed to admit that I have a lot of “junk” in there, too! But being a Christian, I know that God can help me do some serious cleaning from the inside out!

    I find that what requires the most courage these days is being willing to call a spade a spade (or sin a sin) and opening myself up to the Lord. I know that sounds weird, since I already know and trust Him, but the truth is, I think all of us tend to hold back certain areas of our life from the Lord (whether purposely or simply b/c we don’t realize that we’re doing so). Anyway, so I’m looking to find the courage to surrender more of who I am (warts and all) to the Father I know and trust.

    I really like the way an earlier blogger phrased it—-courage is confronting whatever we fear.

    I think this topic would make a fabulous book, btw! Press on, brothers (or should I say “brother-in-law”)! 😉 (I am Scott’s sister-in-law!)

  8. Jean Wunsch says:

    Courage – is it the absence of fear – if it is, we are all in trouble. I think for a Christian courage is knowing that we have no chance of making it, but in our weakness, He is made strong.
    Having walked through a move, moving the mission headquarters and going through cancer and the loss of my husbands parents in one year, I know how very weak I am. Yet, I have also found the strength that comes from just sitting (because you are too weak to do anything else) and knowing that God is there. I love that song that says, “Sometimes He calms the storm, but sometimes He holds His child close and lets the winds and waves go wild.” Sometimes courage is telling God I do not have the courage to go on, but help me – I want to glorify your Name.
    The older I get, the less I feel like I have it together. The more I see how weak and poor my efforts are and the more I know how much I need Him. Isn’t it amazing how He never gets impatient or angry when we fail, but opens His arms and holds us close and encourages us to try again. WIth that knowledge, that He is more interested in what we are becoming than in what we are accomplishing, it really makes me able to get up and try again.
    All He asks is that we be willing to let Him do it. Pretty scary though….

  9. Alexander says:

    I think Katie hit it out of the park with her sports metaphor or is it an analogy… “My bravery is more about stepping out into who God is than stepping up to any proverbial plate with my meager resources.” Maybe it is a simile… Anyway, I love what she said! She said it is all about God. God in us and us in Him! I guess you can be brave without God but as she said it is in our meager resources and can be misguided. People do brave things all the time. Some in real life situations and some in “reality” TV shows like fear factor. I think as belivers and followers of Jesus we want to learn more about who God is and lean into Him so we can be brave on a big level. His word is filled with admonishments to be brave and do not fear and be courageous and he promises to be all we need to do all he has called us to do. That’s all for now…

  10. rickfindley says:

    Hey, I am learning how this blogg thing works I think. I have been posting things at my site Carson thinking they were going here. I could ramble about this for awhile. I think that we have some inborn (God given) abilities to rise to the occasion and sometimes we have Spirit filled situations when we temporarily have a burst of bravery or lack of fear. If you asked me how would I muster up courage? I would say that allowing the Holy Spirit to take control will give you the courage to do what you need to do. Some of the scripture that backs this would be the life of David. We all know how courageous David was in the Goliath story and we know about his battles with the lion and the bear, but do you think any one would consider him brave or courageous as he dealt with Bathsheeba and her husband? I don’t think so. I hope we all don’t become less courageous with age, but I do believe that age may play a part in some of those things. I wouldn’t want to try to do a back handspring today, but 10 years ago I would have done one about anyplace or anytime. You might say that is just knowing my bodies limitaions but I can tell you I would be afraid to try without a safety system. There are other things that scared me bad years ago that are Ho-Hum today. I wouldn’t have played guitar on a song that I hadn’t practiced, but today if there is music there I don’t mind at all. So age, physical condition, knowledge, and I’m sure several other things play with our human courageousness.

  11. rickkva says:

    The courage that Joshua had to muster was so that he could do something that God had already promised would be successful. In Joshua 1: (1) God states that He had promised his forefathers that it would be done. (2) He was clearly leading Joshua that he would be the instrument that He had chosen to receive the promise. (3) He also promises him that He will be there with him the whole time to make sure it happens.

    It appears that in order to take courage, I must be acting in concert with something that God wants me to do. My problem in the past has been that I mistakenly step out in blind faith (faith in myself, my own ideas) rather than believing a promise that God has given me. In every instance in the bible that I can think of: (1) God gives the person a promise (of success, empowerment, His presence). (2) He gives them a direction or needed action.

    I think that there are two things that help bring courage. First, it is knowing who God is. The more I know of His loving character and His faithfulness, the easier it is to trust in what He is leading me to do. Secondly, the promise is key. I may be shaking in my boots, standing at the precipice and considering whether to take the first step of obedience in a direction that I know God wants me to go. As I stand there I consider promises such as “I will be with you (you are not alone)”, “I will strengthen you”, “I will give you peace”, “I will help you”, “if you just do this I will make you prosperous and you will have great success”. These promises seem to be God’s way of encouraging us (building our courage) so that it is easier to act.

  12. Hunt Keith says:

    Truth is we are all like the cowardly lion, the unloving tin man, the brainless scarecrow. The whole purpose of the law, the command to be courageous, is that we could not fulfill the command. We are failures. The law leads us to Christ. We find grace in the hour of need. God wants us to come to a divine stop. Once we accept Him, we become His sons and daughters. We are still without ability though to do ANYTHING that can bring Him glory. The Holy Spirit is in us to do the work; to accomplish His purposes for us. We are vines of the Branch. The strength and power was always meant to be His. It is His ability and it is for His glory. This is why His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The ability to be brave is His ability. I don’t have to strive to be brave. He, Alone, is my courage by His grace. I don’t have to strive to be like Him. I am like Him, for He is my righteousness; not by anything I could do, but because of what He did. “There remaineth a rest to the people of God. He that is entered into His rest hath ceased from his own works as God did from His. How do I know I will accomplish His purpose for me and finish the work? It is not up to me. It is up to Him, Who is in me. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

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