Summary: What is courage? How would you define it? How do we handle the moments when our courage fails?
Do It Anyway
What is courage? How would you define it?
On this day, 20 years ago, at 9:02 a.m., a Ryder truck containing 4800 lbs of ammonium nitrate, nitromethane, and diesel fuel exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and wounding almost 700 more.
Most of us remember that day well. I was a Junior in High School, Ethan’s age, sitting in Trig when it happened. Our world here in Oklahoma stopped that day. The remainder of that day, and for days to come, our eyes stayed glued to the television, not believing what we were seeing.
One moment, though, really stood out to me, and made a permanent impression on my then-young mind. One of the news camera’s was rolling when the order came to evacuate the area because of the fear of another bomb. Many people were fleeing the scene in panic. But, it was not the ones fleeing that stood out to me. It was the ones the camera caught staying at the scene, even running toward it. I didn’t know at the time that one of those men the camera caught acting so bravely would soon become a very dear friend.
Fred was a fireman in Oklahoma City at the time of the bombing. He and his team were the first on the scene that day. He and his team were featured in Time magazine.
Fred worked day and night on rescue and recovery. He described that moment, that tragedy, and the courage he saw that day from the people who refused to run. People who showed the courage to stay, to reach out their hands and grasp what they could of someone trapped under the rubble. People who could hear others trapped, but could not reach them, so they reached out with the only thing they could, their voice, reassuring those buried beneath that there was still hope and that they were not alone. People who risked their own life, who very easily could have run, but stayed to give hope and help to someone else.
That, to me, is courage. To count the cost of doing the right thing, and then doing it anyway.
Most of us in our life will never be called to courage like that. But, nonetheless, we are called to be courageous. My thought, from that day forward, was this: If they can choose to be courageous in a moment like that, then when the opportunity arises that requires any act of courage, I can do the same. I haven’t been living that principle perfectly, but we’ll come back to that.
John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” Jesus phrased it this way: Luke 9:23 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Some of the passion, the suffering, the hardship of the cross is lost on us due to time and to the glory that is now associated with the cross. But, Jesus was not here pointing to the glory of the cross. He was pointing to the suffering, the pain, and the hardship that is brought upon the one who desires the Christian life. Luke 9:24 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Being a Christian is not easy. Jesus pointed to this principle in Luke 14:26-33 where He commands that the one who wants to follow Him must first consider what it will cost.
Doing the right thing does not always result in praise. Many have suffered, even giving their life, for doing what was right. David lost his throne for a time. Daniel was cast into the lions den. Peter was crucified, Paul was beheaded. John was sent to the prison island of Patmos, full of rapists, thugs, and murderers. Polycarp was burned for not turning from Christ. They even took a man who healed the sick, reached out to the poor and needy, and they crucified Him. John 15:20 “Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
Count the cost. Can you handle the rejection? Can you withstand the hurt? Can you endure to the end? Do you have the courage?
Count the cost. Then do it anyway. If Jesus can endure the cross, then He will grant you the courage to face this life and all the terrifying obstacles that come our way.
What do we do, though, when our courage fails? Do we give up?
In the early 16th century, a man named Thomas Bilney came to know Christ, and to see the errors of the dominant Catholic Church. He, in the excitement of this new found faith, began openly professing the gospel of Christ and the errors of Catholicism.