In the past week there has been a passing of a king and a queen. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, accompanied by Ed McMahon, informercial king Billy Mays, and actor Karl Malden (7/1). Unsettled by sudden death, the internet community chased rumors of other celebrity deaths.
What can we gather from these deaths? Is it coincidence or wake-up call?
Listening to those questions, I heard these words: God is shaking the yellow brick road.
In the Wizard of Oz, a Kansas girl named Dorothy and her pals head off “over the rainbow” to find a wizard who will grant them all they need–a brain for the Scarecrow, a heart for the Tin Man, and courage for the Cowardly Lion. Dorothy seeks to find her way home.
If memory serves me right, the wizard turns out to be a fool and Dorothy’s pals found in themselves the very gifts they thought they lacked. It’s a lovely tale, but it smacks a little of gilded self-actualization. Now, we can have it all. We don’t need the wizard, who is really a fraud, and we don’t need to fear the witches along the way. All we need is a pair of magical ruby slippers to crown our feet! (Or the microphone of American Idol.)
Until the death of our celebrity-crowned kings and queens reminds us: we’re fragile, we’re fallible, we’re mortal. We cannot control our destiny. It’s in larger hands. We cannot control our world. It’s far too complex.
One interesting report says that Jackson in his final months invited singer Andrae Crouch and sister Sandra to visit him, questioning them about the annointing of the Holy Spirit. “He wanted to know what makes your hands go up, and makes you ‘come out of yourself,’ and what gives a ‘spirituality’ to the music?” The Crouches denied reports that Jackson further claimed Jesus as his savior and lord.
The meeting reminds me of another seeker, named Simon, who appears in the Bible’s book of Acts, chapter 8. He also sought the Holy Spirit; he even offered to pay for the annointing. He was sent packing, and in the end he sought mercy for his error.
Are you above him? Are you above Michael Jackson?
Many of us seek the annointing because it feels good to our flesh. The fire! The goosebumps! It makes us look more powerful, more holy. It gives us a sense of … Self.
I once heard that the annointing magnifies our flesh–in other words, whatever our flesh tends toward will be increased in the annointing. If you tend to promote yourself or display yourself as clever, then the annointing can increase that–unless your flesh has been trained into submission, by that little last fruit of the spirit called self-control.
Many of us desire to be like God, but few want to be like Jesus.
So, consider this strange annointing that makes men and woman raise their hands and “come out” of their selves. The power to make music or words or dance spiritual. The power that falls on a song and makes men weep. The strength behind the words that bring men to their knees, finally causing them to kick off the ruby slippers and crawl barefoot to the cross.
It can’t be bottled, it can’t be boxed. It can’t be produced by turning the music up and the lights down.
It can be beheld when our yellow brick road crumbles to an end, at the feet of Jesus.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy learned the real magic of the slippers was their ability to take her home–away from the yellow brick road, far from the Wicked Witch of the West–just back to the safety of simple old Kansas.
Where is this Kansas for you? Is it in the pages of a Bible forgotten in a bedside stand, the hard pew of a church you left years ago, the embrace of a grandmother who prays but cannot fathom your world? Is it in the words of “Amazing Grace”?
Sometimes we get so distracted on the yellow brick road, that we fail to see our real home simply there, beside us, knocking, waiting, holding out a hand, saying: Come unto me.
ah…words of a fellow traveller on this journey with Jesus! You speak experientially.