In the famous, fictional tale of the Wizard of Oz there are many wild and wonderful characters, including a lion. Now lions, to me, are characterised by strength, agility, fearlessness and a whole host of other traits leaning towards the psychopathic. However, this little lion feels rather one of the more wild than wonderful in the Land of Oz, due to his quite unusual cowardice and fear. “Not the sort of trait usually boasted of by the ‘King of the Beasts'” I hear you cry! Well, yes and no. The poor lion believes his fear makes him inadequate, whilst not realising that courage actually means acting in the face of fear, not the absence of fear itself.
Perhaps this ‘cowardly’ lion possesses more neurotic traits, enjoys a bit of knitting or smells the flowers instead of trampling them, but it doesn’t disqualify him from what he was made to be (which is pretty obvious) – a courageous lion! As it turns out, this lion acts courageously despite his fear, which, proves his self-given character definition as false.
I think sometimes I feel a bit of a cowardly lion. I know I’m able to act through fear, but tend to disqualify myself because the challenge seems too large and overwhelming. Or, I just ignore things and hope they will go away! But inevitably they don’t, so the only option is to pick up your tools (whatever they may be) and get on with it!
That might be true in a physical sense – acting upon the things presented visibly in front of you – but I can be fearful in other ways too. I often find myself scared to pray for things on my heart. Is it easier not to pray in order to avoid disappointment? If I don’t pray for that – and then it doesn’t come to pass – it’s alright because I didn’t ask for it anyway. Right? Even when God speaks to me about something, I can attempt to work out how His prophecy to me might be realised, see all the mountains to climb, and therefore put it to the back of my mind. Was it really from God? And there it is, I disqualify it.
Something I was struck by recently when reading my Bible was David’s courage to pray. I’m sure we can gain courage from many passages in the bible and God’s promises, but this has shown me something new. David was given a prophecy by Nathan about a house that God was to build for him. A kingdom and a name that was to be established forever.
“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.” 2 Samuel 7:12-17
Now, if I’m reading this correctly, God is talking about Jesus. He is proclaiming that Jesus will be descended from David and therefore even when David’s ‘days are fulfilled’ his family line will continue and (not only that) reign forever. The only thing is, David didn’t know that at the time. I think if I was given that kind of prophecy before the whole Jesus thing exploded I’d be a little perplexed as to how it would all work out. But, what David did upon receiving this mighty revelation from God through Nathan is an inspiration – he prayed.
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! … And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.” 2 Samuel 7:18-19 & 25-29
First of all, David thanked God for speaking to him; he praised God for being great. Then, (as highlighted in bold) David said that because God had revealed this thing to him, he ‘found courage to pray’ into it. His prayer shows that he took God at His word, believed what had been spoken to him, and claimed it in faith. I imagine David in this passage, arms wide, praising God, and submitting himself to God’s purposes. He prayed faithfully into what had been promised.
Now I know it’s important to test prophecy and to stand firm in sound teaching (Eph 4:14, 1 John 4:1, 2 Thes 2:15) but using this example in relation to fear, it’s a great encouragement to pray. Whether it be a promise already made such as in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has good plans for us, or one brought specifically through prophecy, we can find courage to act in the form of prayer because God is good, his words are true and he has promised good things to his servants.
Now, when the Lion in Oz finally met the Wizard, he was given a questionable potion to drink in order to find courage. This so-called bottle of courage proved successful for a while before the effect wore off. Although some things might give us courage for a while, I believe we have been given lasting courage, through God’s Word, in which we can find the promises He has made through His son Jesus Christ, the courageous Lion of the tribe of Judah, a descendant of David.