Note: Following is a summary of Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer’s book There’s No Place Like Home: Hope and Help on Your Journey toward Heaven. Enjoy and support his efforts by ordering a copy for yourself and/or a friend on the journey here. It would make an excellent gift.
by Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer
The human hope of something beyond this life is natural – we live in a fallen and difficult world. Our hearts automatically search for something beyond the rainbow – a place where we can put our troubles and fear behind us. It’s a place we call Heaven.
Did you know that the executives of MGM wanted to scrap the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow?” This is the song that sets the stage for Dorothy’s wandering heart. This is the song that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the song that was named the American Film Institute’s number one movie song of all time! It is difficult to imagine the classic movie without its iconic song.
Why is it we love that song? “Somewhere over the Rainbow” encapsulates our own wandering heart’s desire for a promised land of rest and restoration. It speaks to our hope – our need for somewhere else.
Somewhere over the rainbow,
way up high there’s a land
that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
Away above the chimney tops,
That’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?
Even John Wesley said, “I want to know one thing – the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore.”
So, how do you get there? It is interesting that when Dorothy and her friends sang about their journey, they didn’t say “We’re off to the see the city, the wonderful city of Oz.” What they said was “We’re off to see the Wizard…” Heaven is more about a person than a place.
The most disappointing thing about the Oz movie when I was a kid, was when I found out that the wizard was nothing more than a man.
The humanity of Jesus has great advantage for us though. He gets us. He understands what it is like to be us – our temptations, hurts, fears, and weariness. Also, He represents us. It took a man to offer the sacrifice on our behalf, and it took a man to bring mankind into Heaven’s mansions. And because He represents us, He also shares with us – His home, His inheritance, His position. We now are “sons of God.” What great love that speaks to us!
In the end, when Dorothy and her friends had completed the tasks assigned them by the Wizard, he still was not willing to send them home. Dorothy made a very good theological point – “If you were really great and powerful you would keep your promises.”
Jesus is a promise kept. Remember what God said to the serpent in the garden of Eden? “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The point that the work of Jesus makes is that God has moved toward us. He has done something about our condition – and as surprising at it is, He wants us where He is. We seek a city – but more importantly we seek the God of that city. And in Jesus, we find that He first sought us.
What do we do then, as we travel this road? The journey toward Heaven is described like a marathon. The author of Hebrews wrote, “…Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…”
First, focus on training. Just like the friends of Dorothy, focus on the transformation that God wants to do in us. They sought a mind, heart, and courage. We seek a new mind, a new heart, and faith. If you are going to run a marathon, you’ll need to train and strengthen yourself. There will be changes that have to be made. There will be some blood, sweat, and tears.
Second, focus on the shoes. In the end, it all came down to the shoes. When we travel toward Heaven, we are going to need the right shoes. Dorothy’s slippers would never do the job for us. We’ll need to prepare for the long run. Staying committed to the journey is the key.
Last, keep your eyes on the finish line.
…Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer
Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer is a WBS alumnus (M.A. ‘95) and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theology.
Read this and more stories in the 2016 Summer Compass!