When you think about your favorite childhood movie, what comes to mind? If you’re like me chances are it’s hard to pick just one — maybe you have a few that tie for first place.
I was almost a teenager when Finding Nemo came out back in 2003, and I can easily say it’s one of my all-time favorites. I loved it so much, in fact, that at one point I had almost the entire movie memorized. (My sister can attest to this, since the poor girl had to deal with me quoting it line-by-line every time we watched it.) So you can imagine when I heard about Finding Dory I was beyond excited.
Sequels are great because they give you an excuse to watch a movie you’ve already seen 20 times just one more time. And two weeks ago, that’s exactly what I did. The wonderful thing about Finding Nemo is even though it came out 13 years ago, the storyline is still incredibly inspiring and entertaining. Why? Because the movie is full of courageous characters who, no matter what danger or obstacle they face, keep their eyes fixed on what’s most important.
Courage is encouraging and inspiring.
There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean and Marlin and Dory left everything they had to swim across the ocean looking for one. Never mind the fact that their journey would put them in contact with sharks, jellyfish and millions of other predator fish. Even when all hope seemed lost they just kept swimming.
The story of Marlin, Dory and Nemo reminds me of another story of courage — a true story that happened 2016 years ago at a place called Calvary, where a man name Jesus courageously suffered, bled and died for you and me. When we talk about courage in the Bible we often talk about David and Goliath, Peter and John, or Elijah and Deborah. But the courage of Jesus? In my mind there is no greater story.
You know what I love most about the story of what happened at Calvary? It’s about the source of courage showing us what true courage looks like. The courage of Jesus encourages us to stand strong in the face of fear, danger, pain or grief. But it also reminds us that courage cannot exist without faith and trust. Jesus had faith and trusted in his Father’s plan, and that faith gave him the courage he needed to face even death on a cross.
God is the source of our courage. And when we trust and have faith in Him, He is sure to help us stand strong against anything that comes our way.
If we claim the words of the Psalmist in Psalms 121, “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever,” and we hold this to be true, then we have nothing to fear! We can be courageous because we know that God is in control.
Cultivating a Courageous Heart
When we watch it play out on the big screen, courage doesn’t seem like too difficult of a thing to do. But if we’re honest, in the real world it can be a struggle — especially if we try to muster up courage by our own strength.
Two days from now I will be at the She Speaks Conference in North Carolina with 800 of my fellow sisters and writers in Christ. Two days from now I will have the chance to pitch the book I’ve been working on for the last three years to a handful of publishers. And while I’m certainly excited about this cross-country adventure, I know it’s going to take a lot of courage for me to walk into a room and present my book to someone I’ve never met before. I also know I cannot come up with this courage on my own. I need God’s help. That’s why for the last week I’ve been praying this prayer of courage, and I want to share it with all of you today in the hope that this prayer might help you cultivate a heart of courage, too.
Jesus I am overwhelmed by the courage you showed during your time here on Earth. It inspires me to want to be courageous too, but I know I can’t do that without you. Lord help me trust in you completely, even when fear threatens to weaken my faith. You are greater and you are stronger than anything I will ever face. So when the time comes for me to be brave, help me remember you are always with me. Give me a courageous heart — a heart that does the right thing even if it’s afraid. A heart that walks boldly with confidence into whatever you call me to do.