I seem to watch alot of kids TV programmes at the moment, and most of the time it’s quite unrealistic, so Bob the builder always gets work done on time, Postman Pat hasn’t faced any disciplinary hearings despite his inability to get the post delivered to the right place on time, and despite the Wise Old Elf’s best efforts, Ben and Holly always seem to have fun with magic wands on their adventures. As kids, magic is brilliant, as it helps us move from one reality to the other without so much as a blink of an eye, and for kids that’s how they operate anyway. They can make up games without too much effort and can have fun without trying.
As grown ups we miss that sense of fun and adventure and sometimes seek it out elsewhere. There is a programme on at the moment about Mr Strange and Mr Norrell, which I am really enjoying. It’s about magicians and how they can transform a difficult situation to their advantage. Mr Norrell is interested in practical magic which can help the country, and Mr Strange has a great admiration for the Raven King, who has old fashioned pixies, fairies and such like helping him out. The most disturbing part of it, though is that where the wonderful magic transforms things for the better, there is somehow a chink in the boundary between this world and the next where the devil can slide through, and he pursues people who might be vulnerable. My experience of following a faith is that the devil doesn’t much like it when people of faith start acting seriously in the best interests of the country or the equivalent in their community, it annoys him. However rather than the devil having magic powers, he sort of tricks us into believing magic is possible, things can be really easy, without too much hard work.
The devil can say, “go on it won’t matter, have another drink”, and we all think he’s a really good laugh, the angel on the other shoulder can say, “you know you’ve had enough” and we think it’s too boring for words. Someone magicking all our problems away sounds nice, but we don’t really learn from this. If someone is constantly bailing us out, we don’t learn how to stop the ship sinking. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for shortcuts and making life easier, and working really hard doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Drinking too much can be brilliant fun, and some people don’t seem to get hangovers. It’s just that too often as Christians we ask God ” magic this away” and when he doesn’t it seems unfair.
Even Jesus had this temptation in Matthew 4, it describes him going away for 40 days and 40 nights, to fast and spend time alone. The devil comes to him and says,
3″If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread.”
4 But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’”
When this doesn’t work…. the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their greatness. 9 “All this I will give you,” the Devil said, “if you kneel down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus answered, “Go away, Satan! The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’” 11 Then the Devil left Jesus; and angels came and helped him.
So be careful you are not reaching for a magic wand, when you say your prayers!