We’ve all been there. Some of us are there now. The Land of Cowards. There’s only one way to that land – through Fear City. But there’s a difference between fear and cowardice.
The first definition at dictionary.com for fear is as follows:
Fear in the context of real impending danger, evil, pain, etc., is a healthy thing. It may be the thing that keeps us from getting into an accident, or puts us into high alert when we are in enemy territory, etc.
But if we stay in a constant state of fear or give in to the fear of unknown things to come or act wrongly (contrary to God’s desires for us) based on our fears, we enter the Land of Cowards.
Gideon was a coward. In the Book of Judges you can read about Gideon in Chapters 6, 7 and 8. When he first heard from the Lord, he had a hard time believing what the Lord said about him – “mighty warrior”. And when the Lord tells him to go save Israel, Gideon asks for a sign. He gets the sign, but continues to act fearfully, doing the Lord’s bidding at night because he was afraid to be seen. And even then, after some success, he continues to ask for signs, asking the Lord to soak his fleece with dew while leaving the ground dry, and then vice versa.
Gideon had a really great character trait, though; he was teachable. And the Lord did not leave Gideon in the Land of Cowards. He ended up the mighty warrior the Lord had named him to begin with and Israel experienced peace during Gideon’s rule over them.
King Saul was also a coward. One of his first acts upon learning from Samuel that he was to be leader of Israel was to go hide himself among some baggage. As all Israel was gathered to choose him, they had to go haul him out of the baggage. Regardless, the Lord did not leave Saul in the Land of Cowards, but empowered him to be King of Israel. Unlike Gideon, however, Saul was not so teachable. He kept falling back into his state of cowardice. He could not keep the commands of the Lord (13:13), he nearly executed his own son due to a bad oath he made (14:44-45), he again did not follow the commands of the Lord (15:10) – and the Lord finally rejected him as king.
As Saul lived through his ill-fated reign, he grew more and more paranoid and cowardly, lashing out against David, who had the Lord’s favour, more than once. He went to a medium (psychic) to raise Samuel for advice. He plotted and planned how to hang on to the kingdom for himself. But he did not repent and/or inquire of God. He got stuck in the Land of Cowards.
I love contrasting these two cowards. I don’t know about you, but I enter the Land of Cowards from time to time. I pray that I am teachable and able to be a Gideon. I pray against being stubborn and attached to the fear that would have me be a Saul.
Ciao for now.