Our latest teach series called Heartless is based on the back story of the Tin Man. We are looking at the lessons to be learned for our lives today based on the travails of the woodsman who is the central character in the story. The woodsman has been stripped of his humanity and dehumanized by slowly losing his natural body and having it replaced by metal. He comes to view himself with obvious justification as an emotionless hunk of metal trapped in a tin body and incapable of feeling. Eventually he rusts and waits for someone to find him. That someone is Dorothy and the Scarecrow.
There are hundreds of ways this story has been used as allegory, and meanings upon meanings have been drawn from or layered onto the story. In the Heartless series, we discover through the prism of the Bible the meanings, large and small, that apply to us who are followers of Jesus Christ.
I am the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, standing in the middle of the forest, with my axe in hand, unable to do my job because I am rusted in place, and the only way to be free is from the action of another person. I am surrounded by possibility. I have the ability and the means, but I am frozen with fear and inertia. I have rusted in place and all I can do is wait for people to oil my hinges while I ask this question over and over: Why didn’t I leave when I saw the clouds rolling in? Why didn’t I see trouble brewing, what could I have done that would have prevented this story from spiraling out of control?
In the first two weeks of the Heartless series, we talked about what we can do when we find ourselves in heartless situations. We discussed some cures and what we can do to restore or recover what was lost in our relationship with God and with the people in our lives.
In this blog I would like to talk prevention. And, by prevention, I don’t meaning list all the struggles the Woodsman had during the metamorphosis to the Tin Man and outlining the “do and do nots” to prevent each of them from happening. I am thinking in broader terms.
Here is what I mean. Most people do their thinking with their head for obvious reasons. After all, that is where the brain is and the brain is the organ we use for thinking. How many times have you said this is off the top of my head. What we mean by that is – I just thought about this in my head a little bit, I don’t know if it makes that much sense or if it is even well thought out, but I am still going to offer it up for what it is worth. I probably did that 10 times this week alone.
But we can also think with our hearts. Think about the difference from top of the head thinking. When we really mean something, when we have carefully thought it out, when we have looked at it from all angles we frame this as “being from the bottom of my heart.” What we mean is that I am committed to this, I prayed about this, and I sought the wise counsel of others. When we talk about someone’s “heart’s desire,” it is usually something they long for with their whole being. Or, we talk about giving someone our “wholehearted support,” meaning we support them without reservation. Or, we describe people as having a “change of heart” when they stop behaving in one way and start following a different path.
Thinking from the heart is not easy, however. Especially during a trial as the Tin Man was facing when we are trying to cope with the often unexpected circumstances. It is during these times we try to work our way through the trial through our own self-sufficiency. Often we end up burying ourselves in denial by pulling the covers over our head and hoping the trial will pass and when you lift the covers all will be well. As the Woodsman found out, ignoring the problem often does not fix it. In fact, it usually makes it worse.
Thinking from the heart requires God. Thinking from the heart requires the guidance and wisdom that comes from a relationship with God. Isaiah 58:2 says, “Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.”
So, when we seek His guidance, when we want to make decisions from a heart controlled by God, this is His response a few verses later in Isaiah 58:11, “ And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
No matter what decisions you are trying to make and no matter how vague the answers might seem, commit it to the Lord in prayer, and He will reveal Himself to you. In His Word, God has given us all the guidance we need to make proper decisions – expect the Holy Spirit to impress those principles on your heart.
Will that mean that all our problems will disappear? The answer is no. But, it will mean that our decisions will glorify God and be in step with His plan for our lives.