What I Learned In The Land Of Oz


Having been born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, I was privy to the building and dedication of one of my religion’s temples. As you round the Washington Beltway, it still stands majestically above the trees and looks like something out of the land of Oz. More times than I can remember, someone would paint in bold letters, “Surrender Dorothy!” across a walkway close by that crossed over the beltway, implying that the temple looked like something out of the land of Oz. I always thought it was clever and funny when I would see it written across the walkway for all to see. I was married in Oz, you see, and upon reflection, I learned a lot there, which has helped me understand who I am.

Like many of you, my childhood holds beautiful memories of choice stories and characters that have left an imprint on my mind and heart; many, of course, come from the scriptures, others from outstanding books, such as L. Frank Baum’s, “The Wizard of Oz.” Because this book was made into a classic movie, you can find yourself lost in all the characters while losing key lessons from the story.

In the end, the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ teaches Dorothy, and her friends, that they are in control of their own lives. Perhaps they didn’t know it, but the Scarecrow already had a brain, the Tin Man had a heart, and the Lion had courage. They just needed to have their eyes opened as to these facts. Once enlightened, they felt whole and became happier. For Dorothy, the ability to return home had always been available, she just didn’t know. Once she understood that clicking her shoes together would send her home, she did so and had a glorious reunion with her loved ones.

Knowledge of who we are and what we are capable of helps shift power away from external forces and places that power where it properly belongs, which is in the souls of each of us. We can control our destiny while living in a hurricane. We do so in how we react to those external forces. While gale winds may batter our earthly bodies, our souls are ours to control. No one can make us bitter, angry, sad, or discouraged, except us.

I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ, when embraced, elevates, strengthens, and protects the soul during those times when the winds rage against us. When Peter began to sink in the water as he was walking towards the Savior, the scriptures record, after Jesus saved him, that: “…when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” (Matt. 14:32) Metaphorically, I believe, when we step aboard the safety of the gospel ship, the wind around us ceases because we now have the power to limit the influence it exercises in our lives.

Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, found out that knowledge is power. And there is no knowledge more powerful than understanding who we are, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.

The Lord has provided earthly places to learn important lessons about life. We don’t need to travel to Oz to learn that, but sometimes such stories help crystallize in our minds that improvement in our life is only a heel click away.

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