A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.” Proverbs 21.31
Dorothy was right. When I was a kid one of the highlights of the year was when the Wizard of Oz would show on television. Normally I attended church on Sunday nights with my brother and his family. On that night, church took a back seat to Dorothy, the tornado and those annoying munchkins. I have to admit I was partial to the part where the wicked witch got what was coming to her. “I’m melting, I’m melting.” Too bad, wicked witch, too bad.
The whole thing started because Dorothy was driven by fear away from home. Some mean old lady was going to do away with her dog and Dorothy goes on the run taking Toto with her. The famous tornado shows up, she is knocked on the noggin and wakes up in Oz…or at least she thinks she does. To make a long story short, in the end she misses home…a lot. The good witch tells her the secret. Just tap her ruby red slippers together and repeat, “There is no place like home.” Next thing we know she is back in Kansas with all her family and friends and she tells everyone, “There is indeed no place like home.” End of story, have a nice day. Thanks for reading.
No, wait…I’m just kidding. That may be the end of that story, but it is just the beginning of this one. You see there are more than a few similarities between Dorothy’s trip to Oz and our journey in and through this COVID time. Like her, many find themselves in a place they never thought they would be…physically separated from their friends. It might be on the golf course, at the park, your favorite restaurant or maybe, and perhaps most significantly, at your church. And like her, they might not be sure exactly how to come back together…to come back home. Do you sometimes feel that way? I understand.
For Dorothy it was as simple as tapping her shoes together and whispering a few words. For some, maybe you, it just isn’t that easy. The justifiable fear might have us isolated, separated from friends. Like Dorothy you long for home, but the circumstances that we live in has you in its jaws. I stumbled onto a verse that just might help. It is tucked away in Proverbs 21:31 and it says, “A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.” Nice…very nice.
The author is saying a good soldier will train and prepare his horse for the battle. That is the common sense thing…the wise thing to do. But the author also knows a secret—and it is a big one. Ultimately the victory does not come from a well-trained horse, but rather from an incredibly powerful God. That is crucial in our return back to normalcy—including our return to church. We should use good common sense…you know, take precautions that you feel are wise. But never, ever forget that your health and safety rest in the hands of a very power, very sovereign God. You are literally sheltered in the arms of God. So, be careful, be wise, but don’t be paralyzed.
By the way, General McArthur got it right too. He was ordered from the Philippines and to Australia at the onslaught of World War II as the Japanese swept across the Pacific. He was forced to leave behind tens of thousands of troops…all about to be captured by a very fierce and merciless enemy. As he left, he made a promise. He boldly declared, “I shall return.” At that particular point, he didn’t know exactly what that looked like, but he knew what it meant. He was determined that his feet would once again walk on Philippine soil. Well, it took almost four years, but he did indeed return and when he did, he changed the “shall” to “I have…I have returned.” In the heat of the battle, he could be forced away, but nothing was going to keep him away forever. Nothing.
So, what is your “I shall return” game plan. Have you plotted your victorious return to normalcy…to worship and to church fellowship? Again, we need to be cautious but that doesn’t necessarily mean the total absence of COVID. Like McArthur it could mean that the tide of war has changed enough so that it is safe enough to return…safe enough to worship. Regardless of what church or what denomination, I hope you are plotting your return.
As you journey through your Oz, I hope, like Dorothy, that your faith in God and the hope of returning home will be greater than your fear. Can it happen? Should it happen. Absolutely is the answer to both questions. After all, the victory doesn’t rest in you, it rests in the hands of the Whisperer. Listen carefully for His soft voice and you might hear Him saying, “There’s no place like home.” Go ahead. He’s got this.