Confessions of a Cowardly Christian
By Hannah Goodwyn
Following the yellow-brick road, they are on their way to the sparkling gates of the Emerald City. Dorothy, her little dog, Toto, and her new friends, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion are on a mission to find what they want most: “a heart, a brain, a home, the nerve.”
Although Dorothy was a wonderfully memorable character in The Wizard of Oz, she isn’t my favorite. The Cowardly Lion’s sincere timidity and struggle with his lack of courage, not to mention funny personality, stands out. The first time I watched this fantastical story I wasn’t really thinking about the similarities between the fictional, lovable Lion and my reality.
Like Lion, I unfortunately let fear guide my actions instead of listening to God's voice. I stupidly disregard the fact that the Creator of the Universe, who can do anything, really knows what’s best for me. The lessons the Cowardly Lion learns in the movie are personal reminders to take courage.
Fear Makes You Weak
One of my favorite scenes is when Dorothy friends are trying to figure out a way to rescue her from the Wicked Witch of the West's castle. Playfully clutching his tail, the Cowardly Lion’s frightened grin immediately reveals his weakness. Hiding behind rocks outside the witch's castle, Lion allows fear to stifle his power and nearly retreats when Dorothy desperately needs his help.
COWARDLY LION: All right, I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch, guards or no guards, I’ll tear them apart. I may not come out alive, but I’m going in there. There’s only one thing I want you fellows to do.
TIN MAN, SCARECROW: What’s that?
COWARDLY LION: Talk me out of it.
The funny – yet sobering – thing is that many of my conversations with God end like this. I feel a tug on my heart to do something, but fear of the unknown stops me in my tracks. I know our God is above all things and can carry me through any situation. But, sometimes I am just too afraid of what could happen.
My faith is weak and my heart looks to something else to occupy my time and mind so that I can blissfully ignore the Holy Spirit. I'm sure most of us are guilty of wishing away what we don’t want to deal with. Like when the Cowardly Lion had to choose to put himself in danger to help a friend.
“Get me out of this situation” is my prayer when I should trust God’s direction and truly believe nothing is impossible for Him.
Rest in God's Strength
In Matthew 8, a fierce storm causes Jesus’s disciples to hang on to their fishing boat for dear life. They wake Jesus up with their frantic pleas to be saved from drowning.
He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him! (Matthew 8:26-27, NIV)
No matter the fury of a mounting storm or how dark the clouds in your life may seem, God will be your rescuer. Whether it’s a decision you are afraid to make or a situation that seems hopeless, He is ready to calm the winds and waves. Rest in His strength, and not your own. When you are scared to take a step in God’s direction, get some of what the Cowardly Lion lacked but longed to have when he first stood at the Wizard’s gate.
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? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?
DOROTHY, SCARECROW, TIN MAN: Courage!
COWARDLY LION: You can say that again!
"I Do Believe in Spooks!"
Hard times are an unavoidable mess in life and the roadblocks set to trip us up don’t exactly help. But, we can always count on God to pick up and dust us off, even when we are terrified of failure. Fear often is perpetuated by an enemy that the Bible says is dedicated to our demise.
This reminds me of that scene from earlier in The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch vows to stop at nothing to get Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers. As they walk through the haunted forest toward the witch’s castle, the Cowardly Lion shows his weakness and the witch capitalizes on it.
COWARDLY LION: I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do! I do! I do! I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do! I do! I do! I do!
WICKED WITCH: You'll believe in more than that before I'm finished with you.
Unlike Lion, our hope can be rock solid because we don’t have to rely on our own strength to get past each scary trial. Besides, God isn’t afraid of anything and doesn’t make mistakes, so failure really isn’t an issue. Psalm 62:6 says it all.
He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle; I’m set for life. (The Message)
Take Hold of God's Truth
When we let fear become stronger than our trust in God, we hinder ourselves. Put fear behind you as you walk with the Lord. Be like the Cowardly Lion when he first gets to the Emerald City and gets a glimpse of what he could be if he let go of his fears.
DOROTHY: Your majesty, if you were king, you wouldn't be afraid of anything?
COWARDLY LION: Not anybody. Not nohow.
TIN MAN: Not even a rhinoceros?
COWARDLY LION: Imposerous!
DOROTHY: Supposing you met an elephant?
COWARDLY LION: I'd wrap him up in cellophant.
DOROTHY: What about a hippopotamus?
COWARDLY LION: I'd thrash him from top to bottomus.
SCARECROW: What if it were a brontosaurus?
COWARDLY LION: I'd show him who was king of the forest.
The Cowardly Lion's new-found courage vanishes when the four are granted an audience with the great and powerful Oz. Dragging his feet along the long, high-arched corridor, the Cowardly Lion reluctantly commits to meeting the wizard face-to-face.
At the end of their journey, the once scared-out-of-his-mind Cowardly Lion finally has a breakthrough. He realizes he doesn’t have to be afraid anymore. He now has the courage to face anything.
COWARDLY LION: Read what my medal says: "Courage." Ain't it the truth? Ain't it the truth?
In the same way, take hold of God's Truth -- that He's in control and won't leave you in the lurch. He holds us protectively close and has promised that nothing in this life is bigger than what we can handle with His help.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. (Psalm 91:4-6, NLT)
Be of good courage friends, the Lord is with us every step of the way.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as a producer for LivingTheLife.com and CBN.com. She also writes for these sites. For more articles and info, visit Hannah's bio page.
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