The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 16, 1990


1) Somewhere UNDER the Rainbow (Tom Edwards)


Somewhere UNDER the Rainbow
by Tom Edwards

Last night I watched John Ritter play the part of L. Frank Baum, the man who has been noted as writing the first novel for children. It was a touching story and perhaps dear to all who watched it, especially to those who had seen in their younger days Judy Garland playing the part of young Dorothy in the movie version of this unprecedented novel.

Baum was portrayed as a gentle and caring man who seemed to have a special interest in providing children with his fairytale-like stories.  Last night's movie, entitled The Dreamer of Oz, was actually a biographical profile of this highly optimistic and, therefore,  enthusiastic writer who had a great fervor toward his writings and seeing them in print, even though publisher after publisher had denied him the opportunity of publication.

It was heartwarming to see the various incidents and to hear the different short stories which he shared with the children that later became a part of his first in the series of the Oz books.

Young Dorothy had actually been his niece whom he lived with for a while when he and his family moved out West to share a home with his sister-in-law.  She was a charming, little girl; but died while still very young.  

Even during her sickness, she had enjoyed listening to her Uncle Frank as he would tell his stories about the land of Oz; and this seemed to be one of her greatest pleasures.

While on her deathbed, her uncle tenderly shared with her a new twist to his story: it was not a little boy at all, but a little girl who had been hurled into that land of the Emerald City which he had been telling her about; and that little girl's name was Dorothy. What a warm and gentle smile this evoked from his young, enraptured listener.

Many of us have enjoyed the enchantment of this undying classic. Why, though, is there an interest so many have in fantasy and fiction?  Why do many of us not only enjoy hearing of such, but have also given ourselves over to the pursuit of writing our own worlds into existence?  

I must say that I admire the creativity in L. Frank Baum to write such stories even more so than the stories themselves. Are not these drives of creativity a striving to be more like God Himself?

God is the ultimate in being creative in the literal and strictest sense of the term. For it was He who not only made the worlds and the stars, but He who also made every creature that walks upon, moves below, or flies over the face of the earth, and that which swims within the numerous bodies of water that cover our planet. Such a wide variation from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom, from the simple one cell amoeba to the more involved and intricate complexities of the higher forms of life, God has designed and brought into existence.  

His story is called Reality and it is filled with concrete substance, from the low valleys to the towering mountains; from the tiny flowers to the large Redwoods; from the slender, shallow streams to the vast, deep oceans; from inanimate objects to highly functioning life-forms; with seasons and climates from scorching summer days to freezing winter nights -- a reality that pulsates and attests to the need for the great Maker and Life Giver.

In this story, God actually provides the binding of the book with its elaborate front and back covers, and even a listing of all the characters that have a role in this story; but many of the pages have been left blank -- for since God gave man a free will, the story of man's life upon this planet continually unfolds as he uses that freewill in his day to day activities; and thus writes another page in the story of Reality.

Do we ever find any creature in the animal kingdom that wants to be like man the way man wants to be like God? The monkey sometimes likes to imitate, but is that really out of a creative desire to be more like humans or just a game of amusement, a method used in trying to comprehend humankind, or just a simple mimicry?

Do animals manifest a desire to be artistic? Are they interested in esthetic values? Is the sparrow concerned with how it can be a better sparrow? Does it grapple with issues on how to raise its young? Does it live according to an ethical standard that if violated pricks the conscience?

Out of all the creatures on earth, only man is attributed with being created in the image of God. This is not to say that God necessarily has two eyes, two ears, one nose, etc., for "God is Spirit"; and "spirit" is that which can not be seen with mortal eyes -- only its works or manifestations can be seen, like the tree which sways in the invisible wind or the moving piece of metal that is drawn by an unseen magnetical field. It is, therefore, the spirit (or soul) in man that is his true essence and that which has been designed in the image of God.     

The enchanting land of Oz captivated us in our youth and perhaps even still it is a warm and worry-free thought; but the idyllic worlds that men can only create in fiction, God is able to far exceed with a reality that He has to offer.

Perhaps there was a time when yellow-brick roads appealed to us along with Dorothy's dream-like land above the rainbow, but I just now glanced at a scenic calendar in my office that displays a picture wherein a dark blue ocean with its white bubbling foam is rushing onto a beige-tinted beach, surging around the sharp, jutting rocks on the shoreline, and hurling its foam and spray into the frisky wind. The clouds are low and widely covering the endless sky, and one elongated cloud rests serenely on the distant horizon, but even with all this hovering fluffiness, the radiant sun has still found a way to beam its numerous warm rays to the waiting world below -- and this is just the world of the physical realm, a place for the Christian to temporarily dwell before entering his eternal abode.  Yet, God has filled it with so much wondrous beauty; can we even begin to imagine the grandeur of heaven and His creative-wonders there?

Books such as those by Baum allow us in our youth to engage in a fascination that serves to stretch the imagination; and though this can be entertaining or pleasurable, we can find even more fascination with reality -- not the myth that the evolutionist presents, leading to an animalistic view of mankind that denies the actuality of the soul nor the often amoral world of the humanist nor the Christ-less world of the atheist; but the real essence of reality that God Himself makes known to us through His word. Who else should one go to in learning of reality than the great First Cause who has made reality possible?

Unfortunately, God's intended reality for man is often avoided by those who are simply not interested. Consequently, their indifference to God has made the world drift farther from the truth; and they have built a realm that is characterized by that which can be summed up in one word -- Sin. Yes, the story that many men are writing in this book of Reality is far from the story which God would like to see written; and God had to, therefore, insert some of His own writings in order to make it possible for a happy ending. Though the beginning cannot be rewritten, we can still head for this better ending by being the characters that God desires us to be. Then, and only then, will we be living the most fulfilled lives possible. For what can fill the hearts of mankind better and make each individual more complete than the Spirit of God and all the divine attributes of that Spirit radiating from one's inmost being?

Man's desire to be creative is but a small reflection of God's perfect and ultimate creativity.

Some of our dreams will become actualities, but others will remain beyond our power; with God though, all things are possible; and we must, therefore, strive to better learn the specific role that the Lord would like us to fulfill in the story of Reality, that we may become characters in the Lord's sequel which is entitled Reality Part Two -- Enjoying Heaven's Glory Forevermore!

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards