Through Lent, we’ll travel the Road to Jerusalem and to the Emerald City. What can these two very different paths teach us? Like Dorothy in Oz, we are each seeking a way to ‘get home’ and find the love and security that can only be found in God. Hebrews 11:13-16 reminds us that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth…[desiring] a better country…for [God] has prepared for [us] a city. Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) because he knew that his journey would open the door for us, to that city. Dorothy found herself on a long road through Oz to find someone to help her get home. Jesus also traveled a long road to the Holy City. Come follow their paths and see how it might change your Lenten journey.
Where does Jesus’ Road to Jerusalem start? When Jesus is baptized and begins to call his disciples he and they step onto the road that will ultimately lead to Jerusalem. (Mark 1:9-20) The every day life of Peter and Andrew, James and John, was about to be dramatically changed. A catalyst entered their life, similar in some ways to the tornado that scoops Dorothy up and spins her off to Oz.
Dorothy was an ordinary girl living in Kansas-perhaps not too happy with her situation, but it was the life she knew. The disciples, too, were going about their daily routine of fishing and selling the fish and cleaning the nets for the next day. Rather boring, but predictable. I know I go through my days in a fairly standard cycle, too. Breakfast-feed cats-check computer-go to work-come home-writing-dinner-TV-bed.
Into the lives of the disciples and Dorothy comes a catalyst that changes them. For the disciples it is Jesus saying “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” For Dorothy the tornado whirls her out of the everyday bland life into a life full of danger and unexpected things.
I recently heard that there are two sorts of problem solvers: those who see opportunity in every difficulty and those who can only see difficulties in opportunities. Jesus taught his disciples how to look for the opportunity no matter what the apparent difficulty. Dorothy could only see the difficulties in her situation. In Kansas her life was boring and repetitive. Even in Oz she discovers that there are more difficulties: witches and ‘lions and tiger and bears, oh my’, and a wizard who isn’t the solution. As we’ll see, it took the catalyst of saving her friends to help her find the opportunity (a bucket of water) in the difficulty. For the disciples it took the seemingly impossible-to-overcome difficulty of the Jesus’ crucifixion to understand that God is greater than any problem.
The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament tells the story of a woman who also had to step out on a journey to discover God. Naomi’s life in Bethlehem started out fine, but then came the catalyst of drought and famine. Her husband decides to look for greener pastures in Moab and so her journey starts. “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.” (Ruth 1:1-3)
What catalyst is there in your life? Lent is a catalyst because it offers a set length of time in which to try new disciplines or ministries. Are you up to the challenge to try something new, to step out of your comfort zone this Lent? Maybe it is a simple (or hard) as starting to look for the opportunities in the difficulties rather than focusing on the difficulties. Perhaps it’s a new phase in your life, or it could just be spending more time with God in quiet and prayer.Next time we’ll start down the road to Jerusalem and the Yellow Brick Road. They look wonderful and seem to be the answer to all problems.