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Of Castles and Unicorns

I recently saw a presentation that reconnected me with a secret world. It wasn’t so much the presentation – which was on England and Scotland – as it was the context and feel. I was reminded of a time past, and it is on this time upon which I’m writing to reflect.

There are a few of us who didn’t just read about Narnia, we were transported there. We remember reading the Lord of the Rings during rainy days; or The Cross and the Switchblade; or This Present Darkness; of Churchill and ten Boom. Our hearts lept and we wondered if we could rise to the challenge of life; of hearing God’s call and chasing it when it was heard. This time is contextualized by a strange type of magic, the kind that is surrounded by danger but is wild, epic and romantic. In that time and space, children and adults alike discussed their journey of faith. We listened to great preaching if only for a glimpse into the wonder of God. We read great books because they opened our minds to new horizons.

Though in reality there was as much heartache as magic, my heart still embraces the magic. Traces of it linger – sometimes in just singing at the top of my lungs in my car or in a small uttered prayer of hope for the world around me. It is in these moments that I think Paul had it right – we only see “in part.” And in truth my heart sometimes wishes for a stroll under an umbrella to a house with great halls where a book awaits to transport me.

Some spend their lives trying to recapture this past magic. I do not remember those who were older than me trying to “recapture” anything at the time. The greatest moments simply happened because families were willing to follow God fearlessly and children were not underestimated. Today children run to a screen of some sort – in their hands, on their desks or on the wall – with the hope that it will transport them elsewhere. But I find that particularly form of transportation rather hollow. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stories. But the stories are like being on a tour by a guide (the director).

When I was young, you not only stepped into the storyline, you wrestled with the implications. “He is not a tame lion. He has swallowed up cities.” It’s one thing to read a story of magic. It is another to live in a castle, see a unicorn, or have silent conversations with God about which adventures He’s calling you toward.

New magic awaits. Yes, I know that in today’s “p.c.” climate there is no such thing as magic. And that’s a shame. Maybe there moments in life that transcends age. Harry Potter is great (love those books!), but while it’s good reading, there’s something lacking. There’s something less transcendent. The story is left at the pages of the books, when they could be applied to the adventures before us.

Why embrace the dull and predictable when God has so much more? Some become Susan. But I would much rather become Edmund, Reepicheep, or Peter.

I have never regretted following God – He’s led me around the world and into roles I would have never chosen for myself. The day I gave my heart away was the most frightening and freeing act I’ve ever done. I’m still terrified and at peace. And today I was reminded of the journey; and in particular of a secret garden squirreled away in my soul. Protected perhaps by a time few remember.

It was good to revisit.

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Derek Webster is pastor of Radiate, a new church planting movement in Richmond, Virginia. Derek also works for a national think tank addressing major demographic trends.