SEPT 14, 2016 Devotional: Last Stop Before the Land of Oz!

I had been thinking about the Land of Oz ever since my two younger nieces traveled up to the Beech Mountain theme park this past weekend….following the yellow brick road all along the way.  So this morning’s workout was loosely derived from some stories my sister-in-law was telling me when they got back last Sunday.

In today’s running workout, there were two hidden messages; were you able to put the pieces together to solve the puzzles?  Each puzzle was a verse from scripture that ties into today’s devotional.  I’ll circle back to those two verses in just a minute.  First, however, a little side story….

September 14th marks my dad’s 75th birthday.  Yesterday, I picked him up from a local Charlotte medical center because he had an outpatient eye surgery and would not be able to drive himself back to their home in South Charlotte.  My sister and I split the duties, her dropping off dad and mom in the late morning, and me picking them up in the early afternoon.  My mom is recovering from a knee replacement a couple weeks ago, so they really did need some help from my sister and me to get them around.

Picking up my parents actually allowed me to deliver a birthday gift for dad that my wife and I had put together.  That gift consisted of a glass jar with a cork plug top that we had filled with a small amount of sand.  A funny card complimented the gift where all our family members had signed.  The sand inside the jar was the real crux of the present, however.  This past summer, my good friend, Zoe Brennan, and her family traveled on vacation to Europe, visiting many places, one of which included Normandy, France.  Before Zoe left, I mentioned to her that my grandfather….my dad’s dad….was one of the thousands of soldiers who stormed the beaches on June 6, 1944 as part of the D-Day invasion of World War II.  If you’ve ever seen the opening of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, then you’ll have a visual of that bloody beach where many of our US soldiers died that day.  My grandfather hit the beach via an amphibious landing craft.  At the end of the first day of fighting, my grandfather, “Pap”, was one of less than a dozen alive from his infantry company.  For years afterwards, Pap lived with the nightmares of remembering stepping over his fallen, dead comrades.

As I handed the gift to my dad, I explained, this is a gift for the “guy who has everything”.  Ironically, as dad pulled the bottle out of the bag and removed the tissue paper, his temporary vision impairment prevented him from reading an inscription on the jar that read: “Sand from Omaha Beach, Normandy, July 8, 2016“.  Mom graciously read the label to which dad gave me a very sincere, “thank you, son”.

That bloody battle was just over 72 years ago this month.  Dad was just under three years old, living a few miles outside of Pittsburgh, while Pap was fighting thousands of miles away.

I wonder if my dad ever stops to wonder “how his life might have changed if Pap had not survived that battle”?  How many of us have had similar events occur where we’ve stopped to likewise question “why did it happen or not happen that way?”

I am reminded during times such as this that God has a bigger plan than we realize.  Have you ever stood very close to a famous piece of artwork?  You have to really step back from the painting to view the entire masterpiece.  So true is that with our heavenly father, who paints with very broad strokes, more than we can ever understand.

Now back to today’s workout.  The first puzzle was from Psalm 46:10 which reads:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

If you’re scratching your head, fidgeting around and wondering “why me, God”, then take pause in this verse from the book of Psalm.  “Be still” tells us to relax and trust that someone else is at the steering wheel.

Next, the second passage was from the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 28 and reads:

“In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.”

Arguably these two verses can be tied to one another, in my opinion.  When we are “still” and relaxed, it is then where we have faith that God has got our backs.

I try not to wonder about the path I’ve taken along my own personal journey down the Yellow Brick Road.  I’ve never made it to the Land of Oz….figuratively speaking, that is.  Somehow, my travels have been diverted time and time again.  But I’m not worried about the lack of having a straight path from point A to point B.  What about you?

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…..or not?