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What’s on the other side of the curtain?
Jessie’s Corner
Becky Gillette
Becky Gillette

They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.  2 Cor 3:17-18 (The Message)

The Wizard of Oz is a neat movie. Granted, it’s been around a few years but there is a lot in it to think about and ponder on. A lot of it has relevance today.

The world seems to be changing so rapidly that we sometimes feel like we’re caught up in a tornado, whirling in circles and rushed from one place to another so that, when we finally end up with a few minutes to ourselves, we’re not sure where we are.

When we ask for help, we are often told to go to this place or that place for the answers. But, when we get there, we’re given a list of tasks to complete on our way to a second place where we will get all the answers we’re looking for – as long as we’ve completed our list of tasks!

One of the best moments in the film is when Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion, having completed all their tasks, go back to the Wizard for their reward. Toto, Dorothy’s dog, becomes fascinated by a curtain. When the curtain is pulled open, it reveals an older gentleman pushing buttons, turning knobs, and moving levers, all while talking into a megaphone. It turns out that the Wizard is mostly fancy marketing.

Sometimes religion is like Oz. Some people feel more comfortable when they have a list of rules to follow. We want to please God and if we just have a list to follow, we wouldn’t have to worry about whether we’re pleasing God or not – because we’re following the list. The problem is that God is more concerned about our hearts--the heart that fosters compassion, mercy, and concern for other people.

In both the Old and the New Testaments, we are told that, to please God, we need to pay attention to him, not a list. In Matthew 22:37-40, the Pharisees ask Jesus which of the Ten Commandments was the most important. His reply is “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence ... Love others as well as you love yourself.” All the rules and regulations must have this as their heart or they are just so much “sound and fury, signifying nothing,” as Shakespeare says in MacBeth.

If we remove the lists of rules, it’s like lifting a veil from God’s face. We can actually see him, and he can tell us how to please him.

Becky Gillette is a former teacher, newspaper reporter, and preacher who seeks to take an original approach to life’s lessons. She has recently published her first book, Jessie’s Corner: Something To Think About, which is now available for purchase. Based on several lesser-known scriptures from the Bible, this is a collection of articles which she wrote for a weekly newspaper.