Surprise. Wonder. To see a great magic trick is an enjoyable experience. It sparks something inside of us. And we want to see more.
This is why a great magic act builds to a grand finale. Start with a few basic tricks, some of the familiar ones, and add a little personal flair or twist to them. Move on to the more complicated and test the boundaries of what people know and expect. But to finish off, give them something to blow their minds and leave them wondering and wanting more.
What about Christmas? The birth of Jesus was not the end of anything. It was not the limit of God’s power to send His Son to become one of us. This impossible move was the opening act, leaving open the door of possibilities.
When a baseball fan gets to a game to watch their favorite hitter, they want to see him smack the ball out of the park.
If he gets up and hits a double, the fan is on the edge of their seat the next time their player comes to the plate. Even if the ball pops high in the air and lands foul, the fan is excited at the crack of the bat. If there are a couple of teammates on base the next time, hopes are even higher for a home run, bringing in a few others for the fun.
What if the player strikes out his first at bat? Maybe they get a piece of the ball the next time but grounds out. Maybe all the player can do is hit a few fouls before striking out again. After a few at bats like this the fan’s hopes of witnessing something amazing fall hard.
Magic is about never disappointing the audience. Everything has to go off without a hitch or hiccup. Baseball does not typically check all of the boxes all of the time. The best hitters of all time only hit the ball just above or below four out of every ten at bats.
We want the same thing for our Christmas celebrations, leading folks to spend so much time on decorations, food, and presents. When the special day finally arrives all of the presentation has to be picture perfect.
Lowering the Bar
Once we know what someone is capable of we hope to see their very best every time. A baseball batter should always hit home runs and a pitcher should also “strike the bum out” (my Dad’s favorite baseball taunt). Magicians should be able to the simple and the extraordinary. Christmas presents should cover the practical and the mind blowing.
The birth of Jesus told us God could put a slice of Himself into human packaging. Emmanuel, God with us. Why aren’t we anxious for the amazing to happen after hearing that?
The bar for what is possible with God seems lowered at the sight of Baby Jesus. But this miracle should set it far over anything we can dream of.
With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.EPHESIANS 3:20 NCV
We should be asking the same question about God we do of the magician after an incredible sight: If He can do this, what else can He do?
Unable to Believe
The test of great magicians is to push to greater levels. To prove they are the best by doing the next unimaginable thing. Here, God is on another level. He is always able and wants to do something new and amazing.
God does not have to research, dream, invest, or test new ideas to test His limits. He has no limits. He is able to do. The possibilities are more than we can ask or imagine.
Children have the power to believe in Santa, an individual who grows more fictional as the years go by, to bring them gifts and make them happy. Yet somehow we grow less likely to believe in the Creator God who sent His Son to give us life and open our lives to the possibilities of Heaven.
This is an unsettling conclusion, but we cannot deny it. We used to be so ready to believe. Now we are unable to trust God to see, to move, to be, or to work.
These Christmas posts were inspired by the phrase, “Believe in the magic of Christmas.” It turns out, in order to truly do this, we must have faith in the God who made the first Christmas possible.
Remember, the night of Jesus’ birth was not the end but the beginning. We should look back and see how God put the planet together to receive His Son and allow the Good News message to spread far and wide. The awe of that miracle should encourage us to turn our hearts to Heaven and ask God for more miracles in our lives.
Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!ISAIAH 43:19 MSG
Dear God, help me to have faith in You. I may not understand why You care so much about me but I will believe that You do. That You are able to do more than I can ask imagine. You created the universe and You sent Jesus for us. I receive Him; I receive my King. Help me see the wonder of what You have done and surprise me with what You want to do for me. Thank you for this incredible Christmas gift. Amen.