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The man behind the curtain


The Life Less Traveled


January 25, 2012
The Emerald City. The cowardly lion. Munchkins galore. Who doesn't love the classic film "The Wizard of Oz"? Well, for one, I don't.

The flying monkeys alone freaked me out well into my grade-school years. And the witch? Don't even get me started on her. I'm still having nightmares about the green-skinned Margaret Hamilton.

Yet, as much as this movie scared me as a kid, it's definitely memorable. There's one classic scene toward the end that always sticks in my head. It's the one where Dorothy presents the wizard with the broomstick of the vanquished witch.

Remember how the wizard reacts? The fearsome Oz is less than impressed. Instead of giving Dorothy her promised reward, the wizard sends her away.

"Come back tomorrow," he says, "while I consider this matter."

When Dorothy protests, the floating head answers her with plumes of fire and smoke. His thunderous voice bellows, "Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Oz!"

Just when all seems lost, the ever-faithful Toto senses that something more is going on here and follows his nose to the curtained booth in the corner. He tugs back the drape to reveal a lame little man in a machine pretending to be the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Frantically, he yells into his microphone trying to save face. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." But it's too late. The emerald jig is up. Once the curtain has been opened, there's no going back.

Imagine how the film would have played out, though, if the world of Oz had been flipped.

Imagine Dorothy entering the throne room, not to find the gigantic wizard but an ordinary man from Kansas sitting on the throne. Imagine while Dorothy is talking to this soft-spoken gentleman, he gets up, goes to the booth in the corner and yanks back the curtain himself.

And what if, behind this veil, Dorothy discovers no gears, levers or trickery, but the awesome visage of the great and powerful Oz, a being of unexplainable majesty and power? And what if instead of a warning, she finds an invitation?

Imagine the wizard saying, "Dorothy, pay close attention to the man behind the curtain!"

God is saying these very words to us today. We live in an upside-down land of Oz. We live in a world where a being of mind-blowing power wants to be known by the people He created. Though we live in a world that shrouds the reality of God, God loves to pull back the curtain and give us glimpses of Himself constantly working behind the scenes.

The beauty of creation. An answered prayer. And sometimes even in the weird "coincidences" that only God can arrange.

If you're anything like me, though, you are way too many days too busy and distracted to notice. The curtain that hides God's activity in my life sometimes feels thick, heavy and hard to move. Other days, however, my favorite days, it flutters in the wind like flimsy gauze.

Ever have a week of coincidences that seem a little convenient? Maybe you keep hearing the same message from different places? A Bible verse. A song. A movie. Maybe even from the seemingly random comment of a stranger. They all say the same thing or point you in the same direction.

Or maybe you're praying about a conversation you need to have and at that very moment bump into that person at the strangest time. That happened to me a few months ago. It was weird.

When coincidences like these begin to line up, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that God is poking his head out from the curtain and saying, "Hey, over here. Check this out."

The great thing I'm learning is that these God moments depend less on my ability to listen and more on God's ability to speak. Trust me, if God has something to say, you'll know it. But, I'm also learning there are things I can do to make it easier to hear.

Once you begin to notice this stuff, you'll see it more and more. It's like when you a buy a red car and suddenly red cars are everywhere. Of course they've been there all along. Now, you've just learn to notice them.

For me, that noticing means going into each day expecting God showing up. It means asking Him to help me not to miss Him when He does. It means slowing down and paying attention to the man behind the curtain who isn't content to stay there.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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