I looked high and low for a youtube clip of this scene from the Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, but I couldn’t find it. Do you remember the scene where Marlin (Nemo’s over protective father) and Dori (the little blue fish with no short term memory) are trapped inside the whale because Dori thought she could speak whale and tried to ask for directions? In this scene, Marlin is throwing himself against the baleen of the whale trying to escape to continue his search for his lost son. In discouragement he sinks to the bottom of the whale’s mouth and gives up.
He says, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.”
Dori pauses and comments, “Well, that’s a funny thing to promise someone.”
“What?” Marlin looks up in a bit of surprise.
Dori continues, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him, then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”
I’ve thought about that often. A good parent doesn’t over protect. For the good of the child, parents need to let their children have experiences in life. Age appropriate experiences can provide wonderful teaching moments. Difficult experience can provide opportunities for growth and for trying new things. Risky experiences can build courage and faith when handled properly. You can’t prevent things from happening just for the sake of protecting a child from what MIGHT happen.
My Lucy with Nemo in Disney World.
God does the same with us. If he wanted to, he could place us in a perfect little environment with a protective dome over us. We could live in a celestial terrarium where nothing would ever happen to us that was outside of our control. But what fun would that be? We would never need to learn to trust if there was never any risk. We would never explore our limitations if we never faced challenges that pushed us to our edges. We would be bored silly with how safe and ordinary and self centered our lives would be if God never allowed ANYTHING to happen to us.
Maybe that’s why we encourage people to “get out of their bubble” and have an adventure or go on a missions trip or try something scary for God. You can’t stay at home forever. Get out there and see what can happen when you let something happen. Don’t be scared of the possibility of something bad happening. You should be more afraid of nothing ever happening to you. Take a chance! Don’t fear the what-ifs. Turn them into why-nots?
Kennedy Space Center with our family.
I don’t think I have ever been a particularly cowardly person. As a matter of fact, I’ve done a whole lot of things that have required more courage than I thought I could muster. Each time I’ve had to reach down deep and search for the courage to do something major, it has become one of the highlights of my life. When I’m not sure I can actually do something and then I find the will within me to conquer, I feel elated.
For example, I was barely 16 years old when I started college. I had been away on a missions trip to Guatemala until the day before classes started, so I missed Welcome Week and the campus tour and Freshman Orientation. I walked onto the campus with my schedule in my hand and didn’t even know where my first hour classroom was located. I just started asking people for directions. I opened the door and saw 300 chairs arranged in theater style. I chose a row at eye level with the speaker on the stage and took the center seat. Courage.
At home with my collection of college class syllabi spread out in front of me, I spent the next two hours meticulously writing each assignment into my Day Timer Calendar, then backing up a few days or weeks to write a reminder about starting each project. When I had the due dates for all 6 classes written neatly in my calendar, I cried. I felt totally overwhelmed at what I was about to do. I didn’t know if I had what it would take to do college at age 16. I would need every ounce of courage I could find.
Fast forward many, many years. The day finally came where we said all our tearful good-byes and walked through the security check point with carry on baggage and two children. We were leaving for the mission field. In the next few weeks we would need courage almost hourly. We landed in a foreign country without knowing a word of Spanish. The next day we put our kids on a school bus with 5 other missionary kids and off they went to a school that we had never seen in a city where I couldn’t even locate my own apartment in a country where I didn’t speak the language. “Dear Jesus give me courage!” I prayed. As we walked the mile from our apartment to our language school, I felt like I would never be able to learn this route. I was sure I would get lost here. I needed courage.
And here I am again, staring into the deep, dark well of fear and wondering if I could dredge up some courage again. I have been hired as the vice principal at our school here in Costa Rica. My emotions are swinging wildly between the excitement of all my ideas and the deer-in-the-headlights shock of what I’ve just stepped into. I prayed for this, and now I’m terrified. Once again, I am digging deep for courage. I go to Jesus and ask for courage.
A friend and fellow teacher sent me a very encouraging note the other day. See that word “encouraging”? What do you see in the middle of it? COURAGE. Encouragement gives courage. How many times did the Lord tell Joshua and the untrained soldiers of Israel, “Be strong and courageous. Take heart and do not fear.” The battle is the Lord’s. I have nothing to fear. I take courage in the fact that Jesus is my source, a well that will never run dry. I can ask him for courage and he is glad that I have come to him with empty hands for he is ready to fill them up. I am more than a conquerer in Christ Jesus.
Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.
Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life- body and soul- in his hands…
Stand up for me against world opinions and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?
Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut– make a sharp knife cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law– cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.
If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you… This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving make you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.
The Message Version, Matthew 10
I take no credit for this picture.
Take a good look at this photo that a friend of mine posted on her fb page. It was taken in 1939 at a ceremony for the launch of a new ship. Do you see the one man in the crowd who refused to give the Nazi salute? His name is August Landmesser. We don’t know much about him except that he had already been in trouble with the authorities for marrying a Jewish woman. He was sentenced to two years hard labor. He and his wife had 2 children. One of his children recognized her father in the crowd when this picture was published in a German newspaper in 1991.
Now take a look at the two guys behind August Landmesser. They are taking notice of him. They notice his refusal to salute. I’m guessing by the smirk on August’s face that by this point in his life he’s not too concerned with fitting in with the crowd. But sometimes it’s hard to be the only one not following the crowd. Sometimes we wonder if anyone notices the stand we are making- if anyone is catching the point we are making. Does it matter if we are the only one not conforming? Is it worth the effort to paddle against the current? The guys behind August noticed. August’s wife and children noticed the stand he made for them. Here we are 73 years later… and we see him still making his stand.
“Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t make it right.” Wiser words are hard to find. What are you standing for today? Are you paddling against the current and feeling tired? Are you discouraged because you think no one is noticing, that your sacrifice is being made in vain, that you aren’t making a difference? Be encouraged. Someone is watching you. Someone is reading your facebook updates and blog posts. Someone is watching your life closer than you think. Someone noticed when you did what was right. You might not see it yet, but you are causing a ripple. Take courage dear Lonely Soldier. Your fight is not in vain!
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9