I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen “The Wizard of Oz,” but I can remember watching on television as a child. Back then it was quite the spectacle with witches and munchkins and flying monkeys, or should I say, “Lions and tigers and bears…Oh, my!”
For some reason, this morning my mind drifted back to that classic movie. I thought of Dorothy desperately trying to find her way out of that fantastic and frightening Land of Oz to get back home to Auntie Em and all the rest. I recalled her technicolor adventure, her fascination at each new discovery, the times of tension and fear, and the friendships she made along with way. Her journey was not a direct one. She followed a winding yellow brick road to the Emerald City, then to the wicked witch’s castle, and back again to the palace of the Great Oz. It is only at the end of the film when we discover that she had been wearing the key to her return home on her feet nearly the entire movie. She clicked the heels of her ruby red slippers and repeated, “There’s no place like home.” [Spoiler alert: She woke up in her own bed. It was only a dream… or was it?]
As with many stories told on the silver screen, we find that they are somehow familiar. As Solomon wrote long ago, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The arts are just another means by which greater stories can be told.
Dorothy spent her time in Oz longing to be home, but while there she was fully engaged. She made friends. She faced challenges. She defended and encouraged the weak. She experienced fear and showed courage. Dorothy made herself at home in Oz all the while knowing she was not really at home. She made the best of the place where she was while deeply desiring to be the place where she belonged.
Our Christian journey is much like that. This is our Oz. It feels very real, and it is, but we were born with a longing for another reality. We look around and know that something isn’t quite right, yet our calling is to be fully engaged where and when we are. There is much to endure here and much to enjoy, too. We have a calling to fulfill on this journey, and we do it best when in the company of those who share our mission.
Unlike Dorothy, our way out of this temporary existence is not a pair of ruby red slippers and the recitation of a few magical words. When our journey here is over, when we have finished our life’s calling, Jesus Himself will come to take us home. And when that time comes, we will know fully the harmony that we’ve been missing as we stand in the presence of God.
“There’s no place like home.” I agree with Dorothy on that. One day, we’ll get to experience that home, but while we are here this is our temporary home. Let us be fully engaged in our calling, fully connected to others, and ready to stand up for what is right and for those who have been wronged. Let us face our fears and not be afraid of what hides behind the curtain. But let us never get confused thinking this is all there is, and may we never lose our longing for home.