Towering above Hannibal, Missouri, 244 concrete stairs lead up the hillside to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.
We ground through the laborious climb, one tortuous step at a time, gripping the metal handrail and gasping in the humid air, until we finally stood, swaying, on the topmost step.
We journeyed for the view from the top. Through a break in the trees we watched the Mississippi River flowing peacefully far below.
We barely had time to catch our breath before starting back down the 244 steps to the street and the car, but we managed to find a few insights along the way.
We built courage.
A fall on the sharp, stone steps could have been back-breaking. To complete the climb we had to keep looking forward, stay focused on the beacon at the top, and patiently plod toward our goal. We confront our fear of falling when we look past the cracked and crooked steps and just keep climbing.
We helped our companions.
The walk is too long to tackle alone. To make it all the way we need a hand to hold onto, someone to pull us onward when we grow tired, a friend to encourage us when we feel like giving up. Friends propel us forward when our goal seems distant and difficult.
We gained perspective.
When we look down from above, the world seems still and silent. The sky is cool and clear, the wind blows the trees, and the river's dark currents flow without our consent or command. We realize that our power is very small, the world is bigger than we imagine, and only God gives us the strength to put one foot in front of the other.
We will always have new mountainsides to conquer and steeper steps to climb. The only way to appreciate the view is to muster our courage and make the grueling trek to the top. We can never guess what we will discover when we get there.
Where is your climb taking you today? Who are your companions on your way up?
The Lion thought he was a coward. He was frightened by spooks, winged monkeys, and the Wizard. But when called to complete a dangerous mission, the Lion found the strength to pull his friends up the mountainside, invade the castle, and rescue Dorothy.
I thought I would never finish college. I was afraid of completing financial aid paperwork, facing grade reports, and talking to other students. But I managed to pass one class, and then another, until five years later I finally finished my Bachelor's degree.
When I felt most insecure, I found my old Cowardly Lion doll and stood him on my dresser. Every time I saw him I was reminded to continue acting courageously, although I often felt fearful.
"True courage is facing danger when you are afraid." L. Frank Baum
Take One Step
The Lion traveled a yellow brick road lined with talking trees and poisonous poppies, but he kept moving forward. Continue putting one foot in front of the other despite your uncertainty, and you will be rewarded at the end of your journey.
Associate With Courageous People
The Lion had Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man to keep propelling him forward. Surround yourself with faithful friends who support and encourage you, and offer to give your help to others who need your encouragement.
Trust the Source of Your Strength
The Lion had the Wizard to award him the medal for bravery. Believe you have access to a source of power greater than yourself, and he is able to give you exceedingly, abundantly more than you ask or imagine.
Everyone can realize miraculous reserves of confidence and purpose. It takes answering the call and stepping forward in faith to truly discover how courageous we can be.
How do you find courage? Remember to comment and share your thoughts and ideas with others. You are always welcome here, and you are never alone.