Paul Harvey, of "The Rest of the Story," once told this story.
One summer morning as Ray Blankenship was preparing his breakfast, he gazed out the window, and saw a small girl being swept along in the rain-flooded drainage ditch beside his Andover, Ohio, home. Blankenship knew that farther downstream, the ditch disappeared with a roar underneath a road and then emptied into the main culvert. Ray dashed out the door and raced along the ditch, trying to get ahead of the floundering child. Then he hurled himself into the deep, churning water. Blankenship surfaced and was able to grab the child’s arm. They tumbled end over end. Within about three feet of the yawning culvert, Ray’s free hand felt something—possibly a rock—protruding from one bank. He clung desperately, but the tremendous force of the water tried to tear him and the child away. “If I can just hang on until help comes,” he thought. He did better than that. By the time fire-department rescuers arrived, Blankenship had pulled the girl to safety. Both were treated for shock.
On April 12, 1989, Ray Blankenship was awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal. The award is fitting, for this selfless person was at even greater risk to himself than most people knew. Ray Blankenship can’t swim.
Ray Blankenship possessed courage. Despite his inability to swim, he jumped into the water to rescue a child. Despite the danger, despite the fear, despite the difficult situation, Ray Blankenship took action. That story describes courage.
Eddie Rickenbacker, WWI flying ace, described courage with these words, "Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared." There can be no courage if there is nothing to fear. Courage only exists where there is fear.
Many of us will never shoot down enemy planes like Eddie Rickenbacker. Most of us will not jump into raging waters to save a person's life. However, we can still live courageous lives. Every time we identify a situation that brings us fear, and choose to act despite that fear, we have chosen to live a courageous life. Acts of courage may include:
talking with a neighbor
driving on the beltway
speaking in public
sharing your faith in Jesus
eating a new food
going into the city
taking a test
"...Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9 NIV)