My Dad Could Do Magic
Really. He could. At least through the eyes of a little boy, he could. I’m not talking about divination, which is an abomination. I’m talking about magic.
When I was nine or ten, my dad bought a 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood. It was dark green, and was absolutely beautiful. It was as big as a small apartment, and had every option and gadget that was available at the time—but no seat belts.
One day, I was sitting in the front seat next to my dad, along with one of my friends. Dad casually said, “Wanna see a trick?” He flicked his fingers at the AM radio as if he was throwing pixie dust at the dashboard. The radio dial magically started scanning back and forth, looking for a station.
We were amazed.
We immediately asked him to repeat it, which he did. We tried to do it ourselves, flicking our fingers madly, largely to no avail. Every once in a while, the dial would move, making us think we had a little bit of mojo of our own, aching to get out. This made us try even harder.
So, my dad could do magic. Pretty cool.
Well, not really. He showed us his secret eventually. Among the many gadgets on this car were two button switches on the floor. One was the headlight dimmer switch, which many of you remember. The other button was extremely rare—I’ve never seen it elsewhere. It was a radio scan switch, that allowed you to search for a radio station, hands-free, by pressing the button with your foot.
You may not call that magic, but I did. And I still do. In the eyes of the beholder, it was something that was beyond my ability to explain fully, and it gave me a profound sense of wonder. We often mistakenly define magic as mystical incantation or spell. More simply, it is understood as a special ability or skill that cannot be explained. It can be taken further to be a power of influence, seemingly from a supernatural force. That unexplainable ability was shown by the radio scan button. However, his supernatural power showed itself in other ways, and was absolutely real.
Ordinary & Extraordinary
He continually made things happen in and around our home and in our community over the years that other people never saw and even if they did they wouldn’t have fully comprehended. His ability to provide, encourage, manage, and teach, others was quite extraordinary, especially given his very challenging upbringing during the Depression. To me, looking back, it was magical. In reality, it was the power of God working in and through His creature.
Magic like this occurs around us in the physical world all the time. Even if they are things that can be explained by experts or more enlightened folks, to many of us it looks like magic (like the floor switch in the car). Imagine what it must be like for a child to flip a wall switch and the light comes on. Turn on the radio or pick up the phone, and a person, talking thousands of miles away, is able to be heard real-time right where you are. We know that there are rational reasons and scientific explanations for why and how this happens, but to people with less education, it seems like magic because it is beyond our limited understanding.
This is how our relationship with God works. He has made certain things about Himself and His ways known to us in Scripture. While it is absolutely true, it is not exhaustive. It is some revelation about God, but it is not complete revelation. We know that He acts perfectly consistently within His sovereign plan, His utter holiness and righteousness, and His faithfulness to His children. However, beyond that, like a young child who doesn’t see the radio scan button, we don’t have the eternal perspective that God has. We know that He is a loving father, but the details can absolutely flummox us. We have to trust that He is working His magic in us, through us, and around us.
And, when you think about it, the reality that we are learning to trust Him is the best magic of all.