The movie Courageous opens tomorrow night in theaters across the United States. From what I’ve seen of the trailer and reviews, and what I’ve heard from friends who have already watched it during special engagements and showings, it promises to be a high-action, thought-provoking movie aimed straight at the hearts of fathers.
I do not have plans to see it, because honestly I don’t think my soul could take it. But I am compelled to write a few thoughts that I have on the idea of being Courageous.
Courage is defined as:
the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
Without fear. Wow. Because there are many times that I’ve had to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., but with much fear and trembling. In some ways, I approach each day with a heavy dose of fear as a single parent–fear that I will fail, fear that I will not parent well, fear that I’ll not provide for my crew.
But many other times in my life, I have fit this definition well. Very well. Extremely well. I have been very brave. I know what it means, what it looks like, what it even FEELS like to be brave, to be courageous.
But the kind of bravery and courage that I speak of was borne out of my own stubborn will. My own fortitude. My own self-preservation. It came with gritted teeth and an ample dose of drive to not just survive, but to survive well. It also, though I didn’t know it or believe it at the time, was buoyed by the sheer grace of God.
How very different does courage look like from a Biblical standpoint, from the view of God, Himself? Several times in Scripture Biblical characters are encouraged to be strong and of to be of good courage. But here is what I found amazing: Look at these two verses in the Psalms:
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
Oh, how different this type of courage is, compared to the very human courage I describe above. In these exhortations, we are told to yes, be strong. Yes, be courageous. But these imperatives are couched by the words “Wait for the Lord!”
What does that look like? I’m not a good “waiter” at all. My mind never slows down enough to be still and wait for the Lord, but that is exactly what is required here. It doesn’t tell us to tremble in fear as we wait for the Lord! No, we are to be strong, and to be courageous. And in so doing, “wait for the Lord”.
What does this waiting lead to? I’m not sure. My mind and my thinking haven’t gotten quite that far yet. But I am sure of this, the outcome must be something much more amazing, much more powerful, much more “right” even, if I am strong and courageous while I wait for the Lord, than when I am strong and courageous by gritting my teeth, on my own. Because on my own, I tend to fail. On my own, I tend to run out of endurance. On my own, I do not stand fast.
But if I wait upon the Lord with a strong mind and soul, and a courageous spirit, then I should be confident that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…..they shall run and not grow weary, they should walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Go, see Courageous. Then examine your mind and soul men, as to your role as a dad. Be strong and courageous in your parenting. Of your own children. And of children who are fatherless–because they, too, need a strong and courageous father-like person in their lives as well.
Here’s the trailer for the movie: