While on vacation I spent some time in Ocean City Maryland and at the end of the Boardwalk is the amusement ride section. Boardwalks are fascinating places if you find intrigue in observing a broad cross section of people. As I was walking past a young man near the entry to a somewhat scary ride called the Octopus, I couldn’t help but notice his tiny dog—he told me upon inquiry that it was a Chihuahua and that is weighed all of 6 pounds. The dog was adorable—but what I found most interesting was the contrast from dog to owner. The young owner was obviously a bodybuilder—a massive body with chiseled muscles and a bronzed tan. He had just placed his child on the Octopus ride and was now awaiting—his little boy was waiving with great eagerness and excitement. When I asked the huge man with the small dog if he needed me to look after his pet so he could join his son for the ride, his response was telling…”You wouldn’t catch me dead on these rides”…he then proceeded to tell me of his small sons fearlessness compared to his fearfulness when it comes to theme park rides. The huge man with the tiny dog and jubilant son was terrified by wild rides. I appreciated his story, for I am also one who watches while others enjoy rides such as the Octopus. An occasional Ferris Wheel is about my style. The encounter got me thinking on a deeper level about the power of fear and courage in my life—in our lives.
A legend from India tells about a mouse who was terrified of cats until a magician agreed to transform him into a cat. That resolved his fear…until he met a dog, so the magician changed him into a dog. The mouse-turned-cat-turned-dog was content until he met a tiger—so, once again, the magician changed him into what he feared. But when the tiger came complaining that he had met a hunter, the magician refused to help. “I will make you into a mouse again, for though you have the body of a tiger, you still have the heart of a mouse.”
Does that ring true—sound familiar. How many people have built a formidable exterior, a formidably secure existence from the outside—yet tremble from fears within. We find our ways to face our fears with the force of externals—wealth, status, power, privilege, attraction, security. But do these approaches work—do these walls really fortify. I ask the question, but somehow feel that the answer is that COURAGE IS THE OUTGROWTH OF WHO WE ARE ! While exterior supports may temporarily sustain, it seems to me that only inward character and inner strength creates true courage. And true courage is a very rare and powerful force—a force that makes impactful lives.
Psalm 31:24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.