The Emerald City, Now What?


Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Who rang that bell?
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman: [all four together] We did!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Can’t you read?
Scarecrow: Read what?
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: The notice!
Dorothy: What notice?
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: It’s on the door – as plain as the nose on my face! It… oh…
[does a “tisk tisk tisk” expression, goes inside door for a moment]
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: [Guardian hangs the notice and goes back inside]
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman: [Reading notice, all together] Bell out of order, please knock.
[Dorothy knocks]
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Well, that’s more like it! Now, state your business!
Dorothy: [Dorothy and friends, all together] We want to see the Wizard!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: [gasps] The Wizard? But nobody can see the Great Oz! Nobody’s ever seen the Great Oz! Even I’ve never seen him!
Dorothy: Well, then how do you know there is one?
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, you’re wasting my time!
[starts to close the window]
Dorothy: Oh, please! Please, sir! I’ve got to see the Wizard! The Good Witch of the North sent me!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Prove it!
Scarecrow: She’s wearing the ruby slippers she gave her.
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, so she is! Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that in the first place? That’s a horse of a different color! Come on in!

Well, after some time of persevering and hoping and working and not giving up, you will eventually reach the place where your dreams are taking shape before your eyes. However, this is not where your happily-ever-after starts. You may be rather disappointed (because we have all had this idea in our heads at one point or another) to find out that when our dreams begin to come true, it will mean yet MORE work.

So you’ve gotten that big promotion, but your new office is quite a commute, do you stay put or do you uproot your family and move? So you’ve finally met Mr. or Miss Right, you plan to get married, but they have kids and so do you, as well as a past, families who may or may not approve, etc. Will all of those issues just dissolve when you get married or, along with this captivating soulmate, are you now facing issues you hadn’t anticipated? The list of situations can go on and on beyond these couple of examples. We want things in our lives but we don’t always count the cost to get there or the cost of staying there.

Do you remember when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion all got to the Emerald City? They thought their problems were solved, their dreams were fulfilled, and at last they were safe from that dreaded Wicked Witch of the West. To their dismay, they found that, not only was it difficult to get into the Emerald City at all, but the Wizard turned out to be rather frightening, demanding, and asked them to do the very thing they would like to avoid: go back and see the Witch again! What in the world was he thinking?? The Wizard didn’t just want them to pay a polite social call. He knew they would have to sneak into the Witch’s castle, get past the Witch’s guards (and flying monkeys). He knew it would be dangerous and scary, and unfamiliar. He wanted them to bring him back the Witch’s broomstick, which means they would have to kill her! Dorothy and her friends were terrified at the thought of going back to see the witch, but if they wanted the Wizard’s help, and they desperately did, they would have to do as he asked.

There are many times in our lives when our success may seem lopsided. We might have some of our wishes fulfilled, but not all, or not in the order that we had planned. There always seems to be more work involved in winning the prize than we had anticipated, and there are many things from our past (fears, issues, people) that we will again be forced to face. We might begin to wonder if it’s worth it. Wouldn’t it be far easier to just stay as we are, getting by, but not really being challenged, not growing. We’re not excited, we may not even BE exciting to be around anymore because we’ve lost that special spark, but improving our situation and walking through that looooong field of poppies to the Emerald City just seems like too much hassle.

If you have ever felt this way, as I have, let me share with you a gentle reminder: there is no avoiding the Wicked Witch of the West. Eventually, she will find you, and usually when you are least prepared. Isn’t it a better idea to face her and decide for yourself when and how you will do battle? Yes, I said battle. We are all of us in a battle for peace, freedom, happiness and even our very souls. As we march about our daily lives, doing good, working hard to be better men and women, being patient, being kind, forgiving, we are striking out at an age-old enemy who is jealous, who believes we took something we shouldn’t have, who hates us and wants nothing more than our destruction. This enemy has many names, but for now, let’s focus on our story and see what happens…

The friends finally confront the Witch in her castle, and they are completely out-matched by the witch and her forces. Things appear hopeless, but then one brave act of Dorothy’s changes everything. The Witch is defeated, and they have the broomstick with the blessing of the soldiers who for so long have been forced to do the bidding of the Wicked Witch against their will. After more work and searching, and of course walking (does no one even have a ponycart in Oz?), they solve the mystery of the Wizard, who turns out to be very kind, if blustering. He helps them to realize that the seeds of the dreams they hold in their hearts were with them all along and only needed to be cultivated in order to grow big enough to see. Dorothy eventually gets home again, and learns to be thankful for the many people around her who love her, and everyone ends up a little wiser than they began.

Your dreams may sometimes seem like a lot of work and time and trial, but they are just as worth it now that you have realized this as they were when the first glimmer of them sparkled in your eyes. Don’t give up on these dreams. You will never be the person you were meant to be if you decide against the trials and frustrations and hard work in favor of a padded and safe mediocrity. The world will miss out as well, but not as much as you will personally. The Yellow Brick Road may lead through dark forests and dry valleys, but all that is necessary is for you to take one step at a time. Now come on! Put on those Ruby Slippers and join me!!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29 : 11-14

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One Brave Thing….


Cowardly Lion: Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman: Courage!
Cowardly Lion: You can say that again! Huh?

Today I did something brave. I applied for a job I really, really want. It’s a job that would be demanding, sometimes difficult, and very, very challenging. It seems too much to hope for, that I would get a job like this one; but the bottom line is, I really think it’s something I CAN DO.

Why are we so afraid to do the things we really want to? I’m not talking about let’s all run wild in the streets and eat nothing but candy (a fond dream of childhood). I’m talking about the wise, well-thought-out, desires of your heart kinds of things. If you want to write a letter to the President, or audition for the school play, or take on a special project at work, or volunteer for a literacy program, or donate to a charity, etc., etc., then why don’t you?

Life is full of things we HAVE TO do. We have to work and feed ourselves and our families somehow. So many times, though, we seem to settle for the HAVE-TOs and ignore the WANT-TOs. The result is that we remain alive without really living. The result is that we might get ahead financially, but our hearts are left behind.

Sometimes the only remedy is to do something very hard and very brave to break us out of our little brittle, boring, eggshell of a world. When we are finally able to work up the courage to do these very hard and brave things, we are reborn and the world is new to us. After all, once you’ve done what you thought was impossible, even if you’ve been unsuccessful, other things seem much less daunting. After the first brave thing, who’s to say, there won’t be another, and another, and another? (And there will be.)

We don’t have to do this all alone, of course. God is a big fan of the little guy. He loves situations that seem hopeless, and people that are overlooked. (Remember King David as a boy?) The tougher the situation, and the lowlier the person, the greater is the triumph when God has helped us to plant our flag on the mountain top! Just remember that the next time you are facing a giant that might as well be a mountain or a whole universe of giants lined up against you. The road that God has laid out for you runs THROUGH those mountains, not back the other way!

 Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.