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FIRST-PERSON: A rare adventure

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (BP) – “The Wizard of Oz” is said to be the most watched film in history. Made in 1939, this classic production has certainly had more years than most to gain that notoriety.

But it didn’t premiere on broadcast television until 1956. And as a pastor’s son growing up in the 1960s, for me “The Wizard of Oz” was a rare adventure. You see, for years it was only broadcast once a year, on a Sunday night. And though I confess to asking often if I might stay home and watch it on our black-and-white TV, I somehow always found myself in our Sunday night church service instead.

Finally, one year I was lucky enough to get the chicken pox on Wizard of Oz weekend. In fact, I was hospitalized, so I even got to see the wonderful land of Oz and all its amazing characters in living color!

Perhaps because color TV was so new to me, I focused a lot more on the Oz part of the story than I did the Kansas part. So it wasn’t until years later that I realized – spoiler alert – that the actors playing the everyday Kansas characters were the same actors that played the fantastic characters of Oz.

I was using the film as a teaching illustration one time and found myself viewing the closing scene with entirely new eyes. As a boy, I felt the return to drab, black-and-white Kansas was a little anti-climactic. “What! You mean Oz was all a dream? Now Dorothy is back on a dusty farm with no witches or flying monkeys, no talking scarecrows and lions?”

But Dorothy doesn’t see it that way. As amazing as her adventure in Oz had been, she was overjoyed to be back with the real people she loved, in the real place she called home. Now we all gleefully quote her closing line in the film: “There’s no place like home!”

During our own current, rare adventure that we call the coronavirus pandemic, I think we could all benefit from the lesson Dorothy learned during her adventure in Oz.

There will be a day when we wake up and realize that the pandemic is behind us. The masks and social distancing, the precautions and limitations, and even the public controversies and disagreements will still seem very real, yet like a dream.

What will really matter is the relationships we had before the dream, the way we handled those relationships during the dream, and the relationships that endure and continue after the dream.

Maybe some of the characters in our lives will take on new roles or be seen in a different light during the rare adventure of this pandemic. Maybe we will see a different side of some people, or even a different side of ourselves. The stresses and opportunities of an adventure have a way of revealing those things.

But when the adventure is over, we will find ourselves in the “home” of who and what is really important to us. That’s what we must value and protect, even during the adventure, because that’s who and what we will find surrounds us when the adventure has passed.

You see, there’s a sense in which not just the pandemic, but our entire lives here on earth are the dream. And when we wake up in eternity, we will see clearly that “home” is the presence of our Savior, and the fellowship of others who were following Him to heaven, including those we invited to come during the rare adventure of our lifetimes. And of course, that’s when we will know for certain and for eternity that there is no place like home.

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  • Nate Adams