More on Magical Thinking

I didn’t intend to write a series on magical thinking. I planned just one post on the subject, my entry in What I Learned From People. However, this has been a learning experience all on its own. Because I used words that many people consider positive in a negative context, my message apparently didn’t get through to a lot of people. Perhaps the following little joke will put magical thinking in context.

A man of faith, Sam, answered a knock on his door to find a sheriff’s deputy standing on the porch. “Sir,” the deputy said, “the dam has broken and the river is flooding. Come get in my patrol car, and I’ll drive you to safety.”

Sam answered, “Thank you, but God will take care of me.”

A little while later, the floodwaters had reached Sam’s house and were starting to cover the porch. A man arrived in a small rowboat. “Sir,” he called out, “I’ll maneuver my boat right up next to your porch. Jump in the boat, and I’ll row you to safety.”

Sam answered, “Thank you, but God will take care of me.”

Some time later, the water had reached the second floor, and Sam was watching the rising river from a bedroom window. Two men appeared in a much larger boat. “Sir,” one called through a megaphone, “We’ll pull the boat up beside the house and toss you a rope ladder. Grab the ladder and climb down into the boat, and we’ll take you to safety.”

Sam answered, “Thank you, but God will take care of me.”

Soon the floodwaters had filled the house, and Sam was standing on his rooftop. A rescue team arrived in a helicopter. “Sir,” a rescuer called through a bullhorn, “we’re dropping a line. Grab the line; we’ll pull you up into the helicopter and fly you to safety.”

Sam answered, “Thank you, but God will take care of me.”

A short time later, Sam was washed away in the flood. When he came to stand before the Lord, he said, “God, I’ve been a man of faith all my life. I put all my trust in you. I knew you would save me. Why did you let me drown?”

“Son, I sent you a car, two boats, and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

Sam didn’t recognize his salvation in the ordinary people and tools of rescue. He expected God to work a supernatural miracle to save him.

In the same way, the man who expects the government to provide him financial security doesn’t recognize the seeds of his security in the entry level job he disdains because it’s menial work at low pay.

In the same way, the cancer patient who wants healing doesn’t recognize God’s healing hand in months of chemotherapy or radical surgery but wants an instant and miraculous cure.

In the same way, the writer who wants to become a best-selling author doesn’t recognize editing and revising and proofreading as early steps in the road to bestsellerdom but thinks her first draft should be good enough.

Magical thinkers rely on supernatural powers rather than the power of hard work. Magic can happen … but I don’t think any of us can count on it!

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