In 1900, L. Frank Baum wrote a little book, called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which a young girl from Kansas travels to Oz by way of a tornado. Reminds me of the time when someone at church asked, "If the news reports your county is under a tornado watch, what do you do?" I raised my hand and said, "Ooo, if you're from Oklahoma, you go outside and admire the rotation." (That's what my family does. Please don't tell hubby's grandmother.) Wasn't quite the response the teacher was looking for. My inability to only answer "God" or "Jesus" is why hubby says I should avoid attending adult Sunday School classes.
On the journey to find the way home, Dorothy meets three others who are also desperate to find that "one thing" they thought they needed so very badly. Like Dorothy, the scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion knew what they wanted, only they weren't doing anything to achieve it. Why? Because each of them were in some type of bondage--stuck on a pole, rusted, posturizing to cover his own fear--caused either by someone else's doing, circumstances (rain), or his own choice. Sound like anyone you know?
Recently a friend wrote to me: "I think I'm just feeling out of sorts, out of control. Things are not peaceful in my heart or my soul right now. I think God wants to work something in me, and I need to allow Him to, but it has been difficult. When the Bible calls it refiner's FIRE, it isn't whistling dixie."
"Did you speak?" asked the girl, in wonder.
"Certainly," answered the Scarecrow. "How do you do?"
"I'm pretty well, thank you," replied Dorothy politely. "How do you do?"
"I'm not feeling well," said the Scarecrow, with a smile, "for it is very tedious being perched up here night and day to scare away crows."
"Can't you get down?" asked Dorothy.
"No, for this pole is stuck up my back. If you will please take away the pole I shall be greatly obliged to you."
Dorothy reached up both arms and lifted the figure off the pole, for, being stuffed with straw, it was quite light.
After Dorothy attended to the scarecrow's external bondage, she invited him on her journey to the person who had the answer to his deeper need. She did the same with the tin man and cowardly lion. That, though, is not the lesson for the day. See, each had the choice to accept Dorothy's offer of...well, a better life, or to reject it. Don't know about you, but far too many times in my life I've been stuck in bondage because of my own choosing.
I've been too stupid to really live.
The refiner's fire is hot and unpleasant. Forget going home to Kansas if it means enduring poppy fields, wicked witches, winged monkeys, fighting trees, hammer-heads, or giant spiders. Put me back on that pole. Yes, it scratched, but I was used to it. I knew what to expect. Hide my oil can. Doesn't help my complexion anyway. Let me posture in denial of my fears. Being a scardy cat keeps me out of the ER. Because even though I survived this calamity, I know--I KNOW--something bad will happen again.
Get me off this yellow brick road, Lord.
I. Am. Tired. Of. Running. This. Race.
In Strong Women, Soft Hearts, Paula Rinehart puts it this way: "People often complain of such things during the season of life--like someone drilled a hole through their souls. While everything looks the same on the outside, they feel hollow and restless, bored in ways that make no sense."
"But that isn't right. The King of Beasts shouldn't be a coward," said the Scarecrow.
I know it," returned the Lion, wiping a tear from his eye with the tip of his tail. "It is my great sorrow, and makes my life very unhappy. But whenever there is danger, my heart begins to beat fast."
"Perhaps you have heart disease," said the Tin Woodman.
"It may be," said the Lion.
"If you have," continued the Tin Woodman, "you ought to be glad, for it proves you have a heart. For my part, I have no heart; so I cannot have heart disease."
"Perhaps," said the Lion thoughtfully, "if I had no heart I should not be a coward."
"Have you brains?" asked the Scarecrow.
"I suppose so. I've never looked to see," replied the Lion.
"I am going to the Great Oz to ask him to give me some," remarked the Scarecrow, "for my head is stuffed with straw."
"And I am going to ask him to give me a heart," said the Woodman.
"And I am going to ask him to send Toto and me back to Kansas," added Dorothy.
"Do you think Oz could give me courage?" asked the Cowardly Lion.
"Just as easily as he could give me brains," said the Scarecrow.
"Or give me a heart," said the Tin Woodman.
"Or send me back to Kansas," said Dorothy.
"Then, if you don't mind, I'll go with you," said the Lion, "for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage."
"You will be very welcome," answered Dorothy, "for you will help to keep away the other wild beasts. It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you to scare them so easily."
"They really are," said the Lion, "but that doesn't make me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy."
Last week I realized I have candida. Not pleasant to know. Not a pleasant disease to heal from. Gaining the knowledge of the root cause of all my physical ailments, however, was like Dorothy plucking the strawman off the pole. Lemme tell ya, I've been plucked, girlfriend. My eyebrows haven't looked this good in ten years.
I'm burning that pole.
While some of us need to reclaim our bodies, others need to reclaim their minds, and many more need to reclaim their hearts so that they may really live.
In their book Sacred Romance, Brent Curtis and John Eldredge share: "In the end, it doesn't matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished--a life without heart is not worth living. For out of this wellspring of our soul flow all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice."
God does not desire any of us to live in any form of bondage.
Jesus said, "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give [you] a rich and satisfying life."
"Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good....Listen, that you may live." Isaiah 55:2, 3 (NAS)
I love how Rinehart writes, "What God asks of us is both simpler and more profound than adherence to a system of beliefs or following a set of rules. He asks us to walk in an honest pilgrimage where we let Him show us what real strength, and real love, are all about."
That's one yellow brick road I want to travel. Why?
Dorothy stood up and found she was in her stocking-feet. For the Silver Shoes had fallen off in her flight through the air, and were lost forever in the desert.
Aunt Em had just come out of the house to water the cabbages when she looked up and saw Dorothy running toward her.
"My darling child!" she cried, folding the little girl in her arms and covering her face with kisses. "Where in the world did you come from?"
Well, Aunt Em, I was on this journey that was freakin' hard, but along the way I met some friends who, like me, decided we were tired of being too stupid to live and knew we wanted to really live, so we followed a golden path to Someone who showed us how to reclaim our minds, hearts, bodies, and find our way home. And I learned I need to eat more spinach.
I don't know what holds you in bondage, but I want you to know that you are not alone. If you'd like someone to lift you up in prayer, please e-mail us: inkwellinspirations(at)gmail(dot)com.
A trained professional can be reached here or here or here.
Serious Question of the Day: Is there any one area of your life where you feel God is stirring in your heart to move you out of the stands and onto the playing field?
Non-Serious Question of the Day: Which character in The Wizard of Oz do you most relate to on Wednesdays, the sagging middle of the week? Notice I said "Wednesdays." Who you feel like on Mondays is irrelevant. :-)