I grew up watching john wayne movies; courage and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. I remember watching the movie The Fighting SeeBees where Wayne and his men are reconstructing a bombed out landing zone in some far-off Pacific island. The island is not yet secured and the SeeBees are constantly being harassed by Japanese troops. The inevitable attack comes and Wayne and his men are overwhelmed by a superior Japanese force. Without air cover the situation looks bleak for the Americans. And, just when everything seems lost, Wayne hops on a giant bulldozer, lifts the blade to shield himself against enemy fire, and drives right into the Japanese force.
As I watched Wayne defeat the enemy with gun and tractor, I fantasized how I would have handled the situation. Would I have been able to put forth that amount of courage? Was there anything more glorious and honorable than putting your life on the line for your country? A number of years ago I had the opportunity to hear an interview with Jack Keeshan, TV’s Captain Kangaroo. Keeshan had served his country during World War II with bravery and courage. He had put his life on the line a number of times and was wounded more than once. In the interview he was asked this question. “How did you find the ability to go back into battle even after being wounded?” Keeshan’s reply was unforgettable. “Climbing up a hill under enemy fire requires far less bravery than standing in front of a nation-wide audience and talking to children every day. The one requires conditioning, the other courage.”
Sometimes it is far easier to face imminent danger than it is to face ridicule or persecution. In the former it is often a matter of one on one; in the latter it quite often involves one against many. Give the choices, a man is more likely to choose pitting his body against a known foe than pitting his wits against what he does not know. Sometimes the true meaning of courage is better defined by the unknown than the known consequences of our actions.
Chuck Swindoll writes: “Chuck McIllhenny, pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the Sunset District of San Francisco for over twenty years, has written a book titled When the Wicked Seize the City. When I first met him, I expected to find the man in a chrome helmet with loaded weapons all around him and double bars on the door. Here’s a man whose home has been fire-bombed, whose bedroom for the children is built like a bunker (it’s so fireproof) so his children can survive as he stands actively for Christ. He is now ministering a great deal in the hospitals to those dying of AIDS, but standing firm for the truth, that the only hope beyond this life is a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He told a wonderful story of how he was sitting, reading the newspaper one day. And there was a council meeting being held the next day in San Francisco, and he thought he’d go to the city council and hear this particular issue. It was a homosexual rights issue. He thought, I can’t just sit here and let that pass . . .
He sat there and heard the legislation. The council was about to take a vote. The chairman said, ‘Is there anyone who has anything to say?’ No one moved. Then he stood up and said, ‘I would like to say something.’ He walked to the platform, stated his name, that he was a citizen residing in the Sunset District, San Francisco. ‘What would you like to say?’ He replied, ‘Well, I would like to say nothing for myself, but I would like to quote three individuals that I’ve respected for years.’ ...
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