September 29, 2010...12:01 am

The Magical God

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I’ve been thinking about magic lately. A month or so ago I read a post on Amy Henry’s blog “Whole Mama” (Worth checking out. She doesn’t post much, but what she writes is fantastic.) about how much she wants her kids to believe in magic because her insides know magic is real, even if her brain says it’s not. That post made me think about what it means that magical stories might just open up our imaginations to the possibility of God’s work in the world. Really, isn’t religion is the ultimate (the fulfillment?) of our natural human longing for the magical?

That’s basically what my friend Nancy was sharing last week in Mom’s Group when she offered the same sort of stance: that she loves to read stories to her kids about fairies and spells and heroes who rescue villagers from the mouths of dragons, because all of it points to a need within us to believe there’s something far more beautiful than the finite world around us. Nancy feels that if she encourages that belief in her elementary aged children, they will stay open longer to the need underneath that longing for myth.

Tonight before bed, August pulled out his Jesus Storybook Bible and we read the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. In the JSB version of the story, Daniel is thrown down into the den and not only do the lions’ mouths stay shut (instead of devouring him as they were supposed to do) but the biggest lion curls up on Daniel’s lap and purrs. The two of them sleep that way all night.

I love that picture of God’s work. I believe that Jesus performed the Greatest Rescue (as the JSB likes to call it) ever known to humankind. And I believe that every story in that crazy (and sometimes manic) collection we call Scripture points the depth of that Rescue.

So tonight I smiled at the thought of Daniel with the half-ton lion asleep in his lap, his night of stroking its fur and knowing that the creature intended to be his demise, his one true enemy, had become his friend.

How? It was magic.

Is that what I believe? Do I follow a God who goes ahead of us into the darkest dens, into pits we are bound to fall into and makes a way for our destruction to become a snuggle buddy?

And how am pointing August toward that God who does more than offer hope in the broken places, but instead offers restoration and reconciliation?

Yes, I want him to believe that magic seeds sometimes grow into vines that reach to an entirely different world than this one, one that that somehow his rocket ship (a laundry basket on his head) can shoot into and float inside. I want him to believe that when he squiggles lines on my yellow notepad paper, they can form into shapes that have yet to be discovered. I want him to know that there are possibilities deeper and more life-giving than we may ever experience unless we’re brave enough to believe…


  • I love that last sentence & I agree… I want the same for my daughter, for her to love fiercely & trust recklessly in the Lord, for her to live her life not from a place of fear, but from knowing that our God is mighty.

  • Yes! That’s exactly the way I feel about it, especially pertaining to myself (I have no kids, and probably won’t for awhile, so my perspective there is limited). In fact, I even wrote a discussion on why I refuse to stop believing in magic even now, as it helps me cope with having lost my mom at such a young age and being forced to grow up overnight in many ways (, if you’re interested). It always breaks my heart a little when parents refuse to let their kids believe in myths, legends, and fairy tales, because it so enriched my own life, imagination, and writing.

  • So, so true. The world of make believe can make our hard, unrelenting world a little more bearable, especially for a kid. And there’s a lot in the Bible that seems only possible by magic…a kid felling a giant, emerging from the fiery furnace…I think magic and faith are closer cousins than many think…

  • P.S. Not to mention, as a child, I thought baby Jesus magically turned into a man from Christmas to Easter…a bit like Narnia, where it seemed like the children were gone for just a minute but it was years in Narnian time…I figured it was possible, since it was God’s doing!

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