Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Wizard of Oz: Where Are You on the Yellow-Brick Road of Your Spiritual Journey?: 003

Inspired by John Speight's analogy during a recent sermon, I will be dividing the yellow-brick road into the significant parts of our spiritual journey.


Background: There is one memory of my life in Kinzers that is perhaps vivid and colorful than any other. The Wizard of Oz! It was before we had a VCR - they were relatively new in the United States, but not in everyone's home yet - and they only played it ONE time a year! Just like the Christmas shows Frosty and Rudolph. Since there wasn't a way to record them or even watch shows and movies any time we wanted to, watching  The Wizard of Oz was a momentous occasion, a rite of passage, that for one single time each year it graced our television sets and put a young boy's imagination into a whirlwind all his own. It was the one of very few nights during the year that I stayed up late. One year I remember snacking on pumpkin seeds so I'm guessing it aired in the fall. I also remember the commercials were painstaking especially during the scene where Dorothy was watching the sand of the hour glass dwindle and drop to the bottom. I got worried every time. No matter how many times I had watched it, I didn't know whether or not she would make it alive.

Part 3: The Storm (It's a twister! It's a twister!)

When Dorothy leaves the fortune-teller it's because a storm was brewing. For me as a child, this part was intense. The excitement elevated my heart rate as I watched hoping Dorothy would get home. It's a significant part of our spiritual journey whether we're over the rainbow on the yellow-brick road or still stuck in the world of black and white. Storms come and go, but we must realize their purpose. If not their specific purpose - because sometimes we just don't know - then realize that there is a purpose. A reason behind it all. It's also noteworthy that God will only put us through a storm if He knows we can handle it. We're always equipped with what we need, but sometimes we just aren't ready for the storm. But they will keep coming. This isn't meant to be a downer. Quite the opposite. Our focus must be on the purpose behind it. There's probably more than one because one of those reasons is to strengthen us. I believe whole-heartedly that there is something positive about every situation. It won't seem like that if we have the mindset of instant gratification where we must have or know everything right now. It doesn't work like that. We have what we need right now. His grace is in the black and white. It's in technicolor. And it's in the Emerald City.

It has been said that we are always either heading towards a storm, we're in a storm or we're just getting out of one. There's no rhyme or reason to it that we can understand on a human level. Not completely anyway. Dorothy just spent time with a fortune-teller - someone that thinks they have all the answers. Some one that thinks they have everything figured out because they have the power to answer anything and everything...and they don't need a higher power to intervene. Worse yet, they don't believe in a higher power. This is one reason (just one) that storms enter our lives. Storms come because we hang out with the wrong people. Of course we're too selfish and stubborn to admit that and sometimes we can't help it because we may work with them. Even so, working with them doesn't mean we have to talk with them. That may sound extreme, but is it? In my place of employment, I find it hard to find someone that by hanging out with them strengthens my spiritual well-being. Sure I'll have surface conversations with them. I'm not a complete ogre. Hopefully you're understanding what I'm saying. There are people that claim to have the faith, but spend so much time with people that have no clue who Jesus Christ is. I have always been careful (with the exception of a few trips) who I spend my time with and I'm a better man because of it.

Hanging out with the "wrong crowd" invites storms to come into our lives, that yes, there can be positive things that come out of it, but they can still be avoided. There's a difference between storms that are God's will and storms from our own stupidity. Thankfully, God is with us no matter what. The wrong crowd - the doubters, the non-believers - can ultimately destroy who are and who we have become. All the sudden that standards and morals (the code) we live by have been breached. Then we falter. We just gave Satan a seven-course meal with extra dessert. And he's still hungry!

Dorothy is running away from home, but is putting her trust in the wrong hands. Then God shows up. We know what happens. While her family is running underground, she is air-lifted to the Land of Oz. The land of color. No more black and white. But why? What's the reason? What's the purpose? She doesn't know it, not yet anyway, but it's to follow the yellow-brick road. Her path...our path to spiritual awareness and victory.

...to be continued in Part 4

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