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To be courageous

While rummaging through my files the other day, I found an outstanding definition of “courage” by William E. Munsey, 19th Century Methodist minister. He stated, “Courage is the result of an unshakable confidence in God-it is grounded upon faith in God.”

The old walls of Jerusalem were going up again. Incredible though it was, Nehemiah had managed somehow to arouse his despondent countrymen to the task. Out of the rubbish and ruins, the walls were taking shape.

All around, however, were sneaky enemies who wanted no strong Jerusalem and were doing everything in their power, short of violence,  to prevent it. These enemies first tried ridicule and then persuasion to stop the progress. That doing no good they got personal. The ugly rumor got going that Nehemiah might have an accident, and he’d better get out of town during the night. But then it happened that Nehemiah responded. Said he, “Should such a man as I flee?”

That’s a good picture to hang in the front room of our minds. Here’s a man standing up to life and staying with it when the going is rough. Nehemiah decided that whatever else might happen he just couldn’t see himself running out on life. “Should such a man as I flee?”

At this point, I’m reminded of some meaningful words of the late Dr.  Paul Scherer, noted preacher and teacher of homiletics at Union Theological Seminary In New York. Dr. Scherer said, “All great living begins in some quiet estimate we have of ourselves that will not let us play the coward’s role.” So where did Nehemiah get his courage? He got it out of his kinship with the eternal.

Like many of you, I watched the funeral service for President George H.W. Bush and thought it was very worshipful and meaningful. The portrait of the 41st President was of a patriot who loved his country, a gentleman who cared deeply for others and a servant of God.

But as I have thought about courage and President H.W. Bush, I recalled his military career in the United States Navy. As I understand it, he was a navy pilot whose plane was shot down in the Pacific during World War ll. Even as his plane was ablaze, after being hit by Japanese anti-aircraft batteries, he and his crew continued to drop their bombs. For his heroics, President Bush was awarded the “Distinctive Flying Cross.”

Knowing President H.W. Bush was a man of faith, it was probably out of kinship with the eternal that he had such courage. At any rate, courage is fear that has said its prayers. It is also not being unafraid, but keeping on anyway.