Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 


It's magic.

Sometimes, that's how my question was answered.

When I was a boy, I remember asking my Dad what probably amounted to too many questions about his work. At that time (the late 70's) he was working as a salesperson for telecommunications equipment. It seemed pretty intense, actually. Switches and systems that allowed people to talk to other people in other parts of a building by just pressing a button. Remember this was pre-internet, and seemed like pretty heady stuff for a 7 year old. I remember him patiently trying to answer my questions as best he could. However, I know now that I was asking questions about things a 7 year old could never possibly understand.

How does a PBX phone system actually work? (Remember, my dad was in telecommunications during the 70's)

It's magic.

The magic of a brilliant blue sky

The magic of a brilliant blue sky

I have no idea how or what this piece of equipment is or does to this day, let alone how it works. My guess is that it may not even have a reason to exist anymore, but nevertheless, it's not something 7year olds are going to figure out.

The apple doesn't fall far from the metaphorical tree. My own children often asked complicated questions of me, in an age of games and computers and Internet. I would also sometimes resort to giving a perfectly reasonable explanation: magic.

Most 7 year olds are not capable understand the complications of technology. In fact, that's not something most 47 year olds really understand. Apple's "It just works" is pretty much the same answer as "it's magic". It's something I had to learn to be okay with. My children also had to be okay with it. I'm still okay with it today because there is mystery in much: from a woman's mind to changing leaves to sync technology. I don't understand any of those things. It's all magic to me.

Sometimes preachers try to help congregations understand how God answers prayer by boiling the entire process down to God's answers being one of three things: Yes, no or wait.

I know that there's some elemental truth to that. I know that when it comes right down to it, that's the answer for a lot of things. Parents say yes, no or wait a lot.

But I don't think it's entirely reasonable, or even entirely Biblical.

Sometimes a parent's answer is also "it's magic". Sometimes the questions God's children have are much more complicated than "Could you please give me a new toy?" We often ask questions about the ways of God's technological brilliance. Our Father desires us to ask of Him whatever is in our hearts. However, like trying to explain the workings of antiquated telecommunications equipment to a 7-year-old, there are many things our human minds ask of the Omnicient that He couldn't possibly explain to us. Even if He did, it would make absolutely no sense. We could never get our heads around it. It's too high for me. I can try. I should try to grasp what I can of the eternal, but I can only go so far before my brain stops spinning and I throw my hands to the air and accept Divine "magic" as being a legitimate answer.

The just shall live by faith.

Yes, no and wait are simplistic answers for those who think of prayer as a cosmic wish list, where God might grant whatever I desire, if he feels up to it. One-click. Free second-day delivery if you've paid for Prime.

"It's magic" is an answer for dealing with the intricate and complex. For dealing with a God who doesn't fit my containers or preconceptions or even in my head. He is inexplicable. He is altogether wild. Altogether lovely. God.

As I grow older, my conviction grows that prayer should be much less like a list* and much more like a child asking her father about things she could never possibly understand. But she asks anyway. Our father is wise and kind and good, even though we really don't understand his ways.

And when we stray too far into things that are far too high for us to ever comprehend, I do believe he tells us to trust more deeply with the simple reply and twinkle in his eye:

It's magic.

  • I have no problem with a prayer list for the sake of remembering people, events, issues, etc. that I want to bring to the Lord in prayer. It can be a great tool for direction in prayer, as well as a focussing tool. I just think we should be careful of making prayer into checklist or a grocery list or a Christmas list or a a to-do list. Prayer is how we relate to God. Sometimes I have a list of things I need to talk to Renee' about, but my relationship with her is about a lot more than a list of talking points.