“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” ~ Edmund Lee
Childhood memories…they rush into my mind and wash over me like the warmth of the sun on an early summer’s day. They bring me back to a simpler time when life wasn’t so demanding, so complicated, so hard. Was there anything better than crawling into bed and finding freshly washed sheets that were dried outside on the clothes line? They smelled…well…cleaner. They felt…well…crisper, cooler. It was a sensory experience overload of the best kind. How I used to love the first sunny spring day of the year. That always meant windows open, fresh air, and spring cleaning. Nobody could spring clean like my mom. To this day a whiff of Pine Sol can take me right back to that little house I grew up in on cleaning day.
Memories…they can transport you right back to another place and time even for the briefest of moments. That very thing happened to me today and in the shower of all places. Actually, I do some of my best thinking in the shower, probably because it’s the only place that I shut up long enough for God to really speak into me. Today I was having a moment because I have been missing my blog. It’s been almost a month since I have written and I was longing for the release I get when I share the thoughts God has laid upon my heart. However, I never write a blog entry unless God’s prompts me to. I’m not really a writer so it is His inspiration that I need to string words together in the form of a story or a life lesson. It is His message and His words that I desire to convey never my own. Today as I quieted my mind to think, to reflect, to be silent so that God could speak a memory flashed through my mind. Instantly I was a little girl again awaiting the one time of year when a rainbow would come onto the TV screen and the musical score would begin. It was one of my favorite days of the year…it was the yearly showing of The Wizard of Oz.
It may seem very odd to you that God would bring me back to The Wizard of Oz during this moment of reflection and prayer but to me it was as if He had revealed the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle that we had been working on together. Weeks have gone by and I have felt everything in my life has surrounded around a journey…my journey, the journey of others…a journey to understand who we are and what we were created for.
Isn’t it funny that the beginning of The Wizard of Oz starts in black and white. I feel like my life before I knew Jesus was in black and white. It was drab and it was dreary, even moments of happiness seemed to be lacking something. In the dull of the black and white I searched for the very longing of my soul…my identity. Who was I? There was this tug of war over who I would become. Would I allow the world to define my identity or would I choose to recognize that the God of the universe created me with His own hands and in His very image? Knitting me together in my mother’s womb He ordained every one of my days and prepared His plan for my life before I ever even entered this world. The soul that is far from God aches deeply because it longs for the One who is the Creator of all things. The soul that lives separated from God lives in black and white…even where there is happiness there is a longing for what is missing.
As a little girl I would sit glued to my television waiting for my favorite moment of the whole movie…the moment that Dorothy’s house lands in Munchkinland. Black and white fades away and we open the door to glorious Technicolor. The drab and dreary is replaced by the lush landscapes that are vibrant with life and color. Our faith journey is very similar. When we walk in this world we are colorless, black and white. The very life we were created for is slowly sucked out of us by a world that is dying. However, the minute our soul reconnects with God, the instant the Spirit is reunited with the soul it created, black and white diminishes and our eyes see in color for the very first time. The colors of righteousness, grace, forgiveness, and love shimmer with the brilliance of the most perfect diamond. The sight is overwhelmingly beautiful and if we are wise we will pause for a moment to take it all in.
Wouldn’t it be nice to put a “The End” and a period to complete the story right here? Not so fast! We, like Dorothy, still have a journey ahead of us. That is the unique truth of living out our faith…it is a journey home. A journey suggests that we must keep moving forward, we must keep our eyes open for the encounters we will have and the lessons we will learn along the way. Many people begin their relationship with Christ and then decide to insert the period…they are done. Jesus has saved them from their sin, their soul is reunited with the Spirit and now they are done. Oh no…that is not the case at all. The moment you open the door to Jesus Christ and Technicolor floods in…that is the moment that your life truly begins. The old has died and now you are a new creation in Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of stepping into the life that God has planned for you and has been preparing you for.
No matter how beautiful the Technicolor is we all still struggle to let go of the black and white. We want to…desperately…but the black and white has been so much a part of our lives that it becomes difficult to let go the false identity it gave us. Many of us struggle to let the labels the world placed on us fall away as we step into who God says that we are. Don’t believe me? Just look at the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and The Lion. Each of these individuals lived in the luster of Technicolor but were held in bondage to black and white thoughts.
The Scarecrow had a huge inferiority complex. Why? Because he lacked a brain and the world says that anyone who is uneducated, according to worldly standards, is lacking or less than. How often do we let that very same thought hold us back? We let of lack of knowledge or education and past mistakes disqualify us from what God has prepared for us to do. We allow hurtful words spoken into us keep us in the black and white…we believe the lie of the worldly standard. We decide for God that we do not have the intelligence to be a viable member of His kingdom so like the Scarecrow we stand still and do nothing. When Dorothy stumbles upon him he can’t even scare crows anymore. How often does Satan leave us alone because we have let the lies of world paralyze us to the point that we are doing nothing? The enemy need not fear the one doing nothing. There is reason why they call this the battlefield of the mind. The mind is where the enemy likes to whisper the lies that will hold us captive. But Dorothy encounters the Scarecrow and she sees his value, his worth, and his potential. She speaks life into him and helps to free him from the bondage that holds him idle. Is that not exactly what God’s word does for us? Paul writes in Romans 12: 2-3 ” And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” When we live in full Technicolor we live in full freedom. Freedom from the former us…freedom to be who God created us to be…freedom to be who God says that we are.
The Tin Man represents any one of us who has ever suffered the pain of a broken heart. Left alone and abandoned by the woodsman the Tin Man rusts away, the pain of lacking a heart is slowly killing the spirit inside of him. He feels unworthy, unloved, and unlovable. So many of us hunker down with the wounds of our past that we walk around as patches of black and white admist the vibrancy of Technicolor. Like the Tin Man’s oil can was out of his reach to soothe the ache of his stiff body, often times we place God’s truth out of our reach. The wall of hurt builds a fortress around our heart so that the oil can of God’s word cannot soothe our aching soul. We allow the heartache to define us rather than rest in the promises of God. Psalm 34: 17-19 states “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Ahhhh…do hear the freedom song? God doesn’t want our identity to be “brokenhearted”, “abandoned”, “unlovable”, or “unwanted.” Those are labels of the world. God says we are His children (John 1:12-13), we are complete (Colossians 2:9-10), we are free from condemnation ( Romans 8:1-2), we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39), and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:11-13.) Let the oil of God’s word heal your soul and anoint your life to do the things God has created you for. When you do you walk in the fullness of your salvation…your freedom in Christ illuminates from the inside out and the world will see the beautiful color of God’s presence in your life. The Tin Man just needed someone to remind him that he was worthy of love. Dorothy and the Scarecrow spoke those life-giving words into him and off the trio went.
Finally, we meet the Cowardly Lion. Ahhhhhh…fear!!!!! The poor Lion was so fearful that he was scared of his own tail. How many of us suffer from this affliction? Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of bad things happening, and list of fears go on and on. One of the enemy’s favorite tactics is fear. Someone who is afraid will not only be idle but they will also cower, they will shrink back in order to ensure that nothing bad happens. This is not how God created us nor is this living in the freedom of our salvation. Isaiah 61 tells us that Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and to set the captives free…to release us from darkness. He did not go through the agony of death by crucifixion so that we may remain bound up by fear. NO…he did it to set us FREE!!!!!!! Free to be who He created and called us to be. All of us can relate to the Cowardly Lion on some level…fear of being vulnerable, fear of not being accepted, fear of not being liked or loved. But God that is not who God created us to be. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” If God is for me whom or what than shall I fear? NOTHING. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6 If left to own devices we will wither away in our fear. What we need is a Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man to walk along side of us to remind us the truths of who God created us to be so we can get on the road and be an active participant in the journey.
Often times I feel like I am on the yellow brick road. The journey from opening the door to Technicolor to the beautifully majestic Emerald City is full of adventure, travel companions, interesting encounters, meaningful relationships, highs, lows, and an enemy who wants to make me miserable because I have something that he cannot have. One might be thinking the finale of this God thought about The Wizard of Oz places God as the Great and Powerful Oz but the answer would be no. I am actually the Great and Powerful Oz. LOL…yes, you read that right. Let me explain before you start getting the wrong idea. You see Oz was nothing but an ordinary man. He wasn’t a wizard, he had no power, and he had no real ability on his own to help the four people who stood before him…he didn’t even have a biscuit for Toto. All he really did was point out what each of them already possessed. By their actions the Scarecrow had shown his intelligence, the Tin Man had demonstrated how deeply he loved, and the Lion stood courageous (well sort of) before the wicked witch. That which they had been longing for had been theirs all along. Even Dorothy found out that within her was always the ability to get home. Oz wasn’t a wizard, he was merely a messenger. He spoke the truth of who they were when they could not see it in themselves.
Life is a journey that starts in the dullness of black and white. It was always meant to be more than that but the brokeness of sin has shifted us into a colorless existence. We are born color blind. However, the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He restores and heals us. The most beautiful gift that God gives us is His lens in which to view the world around us. When we put on God’s eyes we see the vibrancy of color, we see potential, we see opportunity. God is love and when we wear His eyes we love all those that we see. We have an overwhelming desire to reach out to the lost and to the hurting, to bring hope to those who have given up. To touch the lives around us with the love of the Savior who rescued us from the black and white to bring us into a life of full color. Not unlike our childhood friends from The Wizard of Oz, we too can walk in the beauty of God’s colorful majesty and still be held captive to thoughts and feelings of the colorless world we left. My job with this blog was simply to remind you that as a Christ follower the Spirit of the living God dwells inside of you. God has created you for a purpose…to bring the brilliant colors of righteousness, grace, forgiveness, and love to the world around you. God did not create you and Jesus did not die so that you would be held in bondage to worldly labels. He created you because you are His beloved and He has a hope and a future for you. Through you He desires to share His love with those who so desperately need it. Who are you? You are the child of the One True God! What is your purpose? To worship the Father, to make the name of Jesus known, and to reach out to a lost and hurting world with the same love that the Father lavishes on you. God has created you to do great works in the name of His Son. Sometimes we merely need a messenger in our day to point out what is already there inside of us.