A peek behind the curtain

Image Source: Julius Drost

I love magic. I love watching magicians perform. I allow my beliefs to be suspended while they perform tricks on my mind.

In high school, I was fascinated with card tricks and spent many hours learning sleight-of-hand techniques so that I could impress my friends and families with card tricks of my own. While I have forgotten many of them, I still enjoy pulling out the occasional trick when I get the chance.

The audience has a special role to play in a magic trick. I have found that there are generally two types of people when watching magic tricks...

The first person is the cynic. From the outset, you can see that they are just there to prove the magician wrong. They disregard instructions, analyse every movement and before the trick is done they are already telling the person beside them how they think the magic is achieved. They are always trying to get a peek behind the curtain.

The second person is fully immersed in the experience. They follow the magicians' instructions, they await in anticipation and they gasp at the final big reveal. They don’t try to second-guess the magician. They just enjoy it. They know that there’s nothing supernatural going on, but they allow the magic to be real for them.

Which person do you think gets the most enjoyment from the magic trick?

I believe that the second person is the one that better understands what magic is. Magic is not something that needs to be analysed at every turn, trying our best to determine how the magic happens. Don't get me wrong, I love wondering how a magician performs his/her trick, but the wonder is the thing that makes it enjoyable, not the knowledge of how it is done.

Magic is something that is best enjoyed when it is fully experienced. When the wonder remains intact. In fact, as soon as we know the 'secret' behind the trick, the sense of awe for the magic is lost.

Is the same perhaps true for us on our faith journey? We spend so much time and effort debating why certain things happen, what God is like, and how God wants us to behave that we completely miss out on the joy and beauty in the mysteries of God.

Perhaps, instead of trying so hard to get a peek behind the curtain, we could be content with enjoying the mysteries of God without needing to know the specifics behind every little encounter with the divine.

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea."

- Job 11:7-9 (NIV)

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