Ruby Red Slippers by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Last weekend, I visited the Smithsonian Natural Museum of American History in Washington, DC for the first time, and the highlight of my visit was seeing the actual ruby red slippers that Judy Garland wore while portraying Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

In younger years, The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorite movies. I did not miss it anytime it aired, and I could do impressions of many of the characters in the movie including the munchkins, the tin man, and the Wicked Witch of the West. Sharing this talent in our college dining hall did not lead to too many dates!

Seeing the slippers brought back memories, but I wondered why The Wizard of Oz was such an influential movie in my life. What was it that I learned from Dorothy that also carried spiritual undertones?

First, Dorothy embarked on an adventure. She traveled to an unknown land. It was an escape from her humble environment in Kansas. While living in a difficult childhood environment, I felt like I was on the adventure with Dorothy and hoped that somewhere over the rainbow my dreams would also come true. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

Dorothy accepted everyone. The characters looked different than Dorothy but whether they were munchkins, a scarecrow, or a rusty tin man, she treated all with the same compassion and dignity. This is how we are called to treat others. “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (James 2:1, ESV).

Dorothy had to combat evil. The Wicked Witch of the West did everything in her power to prevent Dorothy from reaching her goal of seeing the wizard, but goodness prevailed. If we press into our good God, He too helps us reach our goals. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10, ESV).

Dorothy faced disappointment. After finding the wizard, she was told to retrieve the wicked witch’s broom, but upon doing so—and after much peril—she found out the wizard was only a mere man operating controls from behind a curtain. Like Dorothy, we all encounter disappointment in life, but the Lord guides us out of despair. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18, NIV).

Dorothy discovered that she always possessed what she needed. Dorothy realized the ruby red slippers that Glynda The Good Witch placed on her feet at the beginning provided her ticket home. No matter what difficulties we have experienced, God equipped us in the womb to overcome. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:13–14, NIV).

The ruby red slippers were symbolic of Dorothy’s ticket home and in the end, her old life, that she may have taken for granted, was restored. God restores our lives as well, and when he does, we, too, can say “There’s no place like home.”

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
 you will again bring me up (Psalm 71:20, NIV).

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