The Wizard of Oz is one of those movies that comes on randomly while flipping the channels – and I can sit and watch it like it’s the first time. The flying monkeys creep me out. The Wicked Witch of the West’s green face appearing in the giant crystal ball still gives me nightmares. And the sheer anticipation and hope of what is coming next when Scarecrow grabs the bucket of water to kill the witch.
What a great story. I feel like we see ourselves in each of the main characters – trying to find our way back home (whatever home is). Wanting to feel smarter, greater emotion towards others, and greater courage within ourselves.
All the main characters are great, but let’s focus on the Cowardly Lion. He’s supposed to be ruling the forest and living up to his title “King of the Beasts.” Instead, he puts on a front that he’s tough, lives his life in fear (even his own tail scares him), and runs away from a challenge. Sound familiar?
It feels like we’re living in one of the most fearful and uncertain times in history. We also feel out of control like there’s nothing we can do to help solve so many big problems. The global pandemic, the continual uptick in violence, natural disasters, terrorist threats, and economies that have the foundation of trillions of dollars of debt. Like the Cowardly Lion, most of us want to run and hide and be left alone. But where do we go??? And wait – if the Lion doesn’t rule as king of the forest – who will fill that gap???
A story of comparison can be found in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel chapters 9 and 10. A quick summary reveals that God was ruler over the nation of Israel – but the people compared themselves to other nations and instead wanted a person to rule over them as king. God gives them over to their desires – and that predictiably leads them to disaster. Sound familiar?
I wanted zero in on the man that was chosen to be king – Saul from the tribe of Benjamin. He started out great with limitless potential:
- He looked the part – “Saul was the most handsome man in Israel – head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land” (1 Samuel 9: 2).
- God allowed it to happen, giving Saul the potential to be successful – “Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. ‘Do everything they say to you,’ the Lord replied, ‘for they are rejecting me, not you” (1 Samuel 8: 6,7).
- He was blessed by Israel’s spiritual leader – Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession” (1 Samuel 10: 1).
- Saul was initially given spontaneous supernatural power – “At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them (a group of prophets). You will be changed into a different person” (1 Samuel 10: 6).
So now is the big moment. The people’s spiritual leader, Samuel, is ready to turn over the rule of Israel to a physical leader, Saul. All the people are gathered in public for the highly anticipated reveal and ceremony. All hail the new king! And here’s what happened:
And finally, Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”
And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else (1 Samuel 10: 21-23).
His big moment – and he hides in the baggage??? His chance to be “King of the Forest” – and instead he chooses to be a scaredy cat??? It’s kind of like us being invited to receive an award – but we decide to hide in a bathroom stall all evening. Sound familiar?
I don’t know about you – but I can see myself in what Saul did. Empowered by God, blessed and encouraged by others, given gifts to use for his purpose – and I let fear take over.
“I probably should speak up – but my idea might sound silly.”
“I should pray right now for that person’s need – but what if someone walks by, what might they think?”
“Maybe I’ll have that difficult conversation at work or at home – but what if they get mad?”
“I should stand up for what I believe in. But what if I offend them?”
Do you see yourself in any of these statements? They probably sounds familiar.
Conclusion – So what do we do? First, realize that fear and hiding have been around since the beginning of history: After disobeying God, Adam’s reply was, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid . . . ” (Genesis 3: 10). Second, stop looking at ourselves and our limited resources – and look to God and his unending abundance and power: “With God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). And finally, put into action this advice to sabotage fear from author John Eldridge: “Step into that which you normally avoid.”
Stumble through that difficult conversation.
Speak up for what you believe in is truth even if you are outnumbered.
Send back to the kitchen that cold steak you received at the restaurant.
Find a cause you are passionate about and get involved today. Stop waiting for “someday.”
Go back to school and get that degree or certification.
By choosing to step into our fears, we are slowly building up our minds (brains), our hearts, and of course . . . our courage. We’re entering the journey of finding our way home of becoming who God designed us to be.