Mick’s Memo – Oz Reflections – Courage

As a church that is planted in Chittenango, we are only too aware of the story of Oz and its Wizard. While some have assigned economic editorial content related to the time of L. Frank Baum’s writing, I prefer to look at the virtues of the characters that accompany Dorothy on her quest.  The “brainless” scarecrow, the cowardly Lion and the heartless woodsman all solve their deficiencies by the self-discovery that emerges from their harrowing experiences chasing the wicked witch.

These three traits are valuable assets to any human being.  Courage is essential to influence. Few things of value are easily achieved.  They usually involved risk, conflict and sacrifice; none of these are typical of cowardly lions.  How do we build our courage? I believe its combination of belief and experience. One of my favorite passages is God’s encouragement of Joshua as he assumed leadership of Israel after 40 years of being Moses’ follower—

Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. Joshua 1:3-7 (ESV)

God refreshed Joshua’s memory of the promises God had made and had already started accomplishing.  God reminded him of how he had helped Moses. God told him of the need to follow instructions and to act courageously.  

Is fear limiting your horizons, shutting down your best initiatives, or locking you out of the best that God has for you?  “What if” questions can stimulate us or paralyze us. Can you envision what might happen if you had the courage to try something that you’re currently avoiding?  Courage is the enemy of complacency and the best friend of possibilities. As the cowardly lion showed us, lack of courage comes when we see too much in the challenge and not enough in the resources available to us. His isolation, false bravado, sleepless nights, and constant regrets flow directly from an absence of courage. In contrast, Jesus spoke these words to the disciples within hours of His arrest and torturous death…

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 (NET)

Courage comes when we filter our fears through the reality of Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice for us.  

During the weeks leading up to the Christmas celebration we will be looking at God’s eternal plans that were made clearer and clearer over time, culminating in the incarnation, life and death of Jesus.  I hope you’ll be joining us!

Don’t forget we “fall back” on the clocks this weekend!

Looking forward to seeing you!

Mick

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