Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!
• Galatians 3:2-4, MSG
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One day Dorothy and Toto found themselves in a wondrous world — not in Kansas anymore! for sure. You might say they arrived there by grace alone. In the midst of their mostly tranquil but unsatisfying life, a life that had prompted Dorothy to dream of a better world “over the rainbow,” they found that land through a power greater than themselves. A twister blew off the plains, picked them up and twirled them ’round, and set them done in a new realm. Sepia tones turned to technicolor, drab became dynamic: everything was new.
For the first time in her life, Dorothy felt alive. However, also for the first time, she knew that her ultimate dream was to find home. How could she find her way home?
Dorothy received a simple answer: “Follow the yellow brick road.” And, looking up, she beheld a clear path of golden bricks winding around and leading off into the distance. This road, she was promised, would take her to the city of Oz, where she would meet the powerful Wizard. He would give her the answer. He would show her the way to go home.
The advice she got, of course, proved inadequate. Following the yellow brick road made things worse and ultimately left her stranded and still wondering how she would ever get home.
It must be admitted that Dorothy found blessings and learned lessons along the way. She found friends as needy as she, who joined her on the quest to find answers at the end of the road. She also found danger and difficulty. Various troubles and obstacles hindered and threatened the journey. In confronting them, this humble farm girl discovered hidden resources within herself, as well as the reassurance and security that comes from having loyal companions to help you fight your battles. Dorothy also learned that the world has its charlatans, who, despite their public reputations, are little more than pathetic imposters. They influence others through the power of suggestion and manipulation. They know how to market themselves. They build great cities but hide behind little curtains.
When it was all over, and she had reached the end of the road, Dorothy stood with Toto in her arms and a tear in her eye. She had not found the way home. The yellow brick road, as simple and well-marked as it was, had led her nowhere. The great city had proved no better than the farmyard at satisfying her heart. Her friends couldn’t give her what she ultimately needed. Nor could the great and powerful Wizard.
Having begun her journey by the gracious intervention of a power greater than herself, she now realized that all the paths she had taken subsequently were dead ends. Though they came highly recommended and were firmly believed in by those who promoted them, they could not ultimately help Dorothy or lead her home.
And then once more grace intervened. As Dorothy stood weeping, Glinda the Good Witch appeared.
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Read those words again. “You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.” And, “She had to learn it for herself.”
From the moment grace set her down in a new land, she had the power to find home. She had the ability to make the journey. She had the resources to make it all the way. She didn’t know it then. But it had all been given to her.
She didn’t need the yellow brick road. She didn’t need the city. She didn’t need the wizard. She and her friends (who, by the way learned the same lesson), didn’t need what they thought they needed or what others thought they needed. All the “paths” laid out for them proved to be worthless. All the “experts” proved incapable of granting their deepest needs and wants. Their only value was providing context for Dorothy learning for herself what she needed.
They only needed to make the journey. In walking, they found the way.
Traveler, your footsteps are
the way, and nothing more.
Traveler, there is not a way;
the way is made by walking.
• Antonio Machado