Some days I settle for smoke and mirrors. Because, for real, the temptation for a cover up is much greater and seems easier than letting reality show.
The ultimate in smoke and mirrors: the house clean up. Maybe you can relate, this is when the “public portions” of the house get a nice cleaning. Countertops are neat and tidy, the bathroom is spotless, coats and shoes are all in a row, even the trash can has been recently emptied.
The cupboards below those nice clean counters are stuffed with junk… Closets are packed full of all the “extras”… Bags and bags of trash are spilling over just out of sight waiting for trash day… and heaven help us if someone tries to reach under (or in) the couch because who knows what nastiness is hiding in there?!
Smoke and Mirrors baby, smoke and mirrors…
“Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description. The source of the name is based on magicians’ illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a distracting burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception.”
That phrase might not be popular right now but there are dozens of other idiomatic expressions all trying to describe: a cover-up.
House cleaning “smoke and mirrors” style is relatively tame, many people do it and not just for the sole purpose of making your house appear immaculate but also for the comfort of your guests. But what about when we apply a smoke and mirrors mentality to other areas of daily living?
- Add a little concealer to hide the dark circles etched under your eyes from stress and lack of sleep.
- Put on a baggy sweatshirt to hide the effects of too many days, too many cookies, too little physical activity.
- Run quickly into the store searching for some sort of gift for the birthday you forgot, anniversary you didn’t remember, party you didn’t put on the calendar.
- With a few minutes left before heading out the door speed read through scripture/book study that you were supposed to be reading all week long.
- Hold back the tears, bite your tongue, feign a smile and answer “I’m good.”
smoke and mirrors…
Why do we choose the cover up instead of being real? We don’t want to disappoint… sure. We have appearances to uphold… yup. Fixing the real problems takes a lot of effort… you betcha. Being real can hurt… don’t I know it.
But what can smoke and mirrors really give you?
If I’m being really honest in my life it boils down to: a few extra minutes, undeserved admiration, avoiding tough conversations, being isolated, feeling fake.
God isn’t interested in my smoke and mirrors, there is no cover up that He can’t see through.
What am I to do when I haven’t done enough, don’t have enough for what I’m going through, can’t find the answer to the struggles I’m facing?
I need to remember that God isn’t in the business of smoke and mirrors but of loaves and fish.
The need is great, circumstances are bigger than we can handle, our attempts to find an answer have come up empty. Yet it isn’t always about us, about what we can do…
Luke 9 recounts the story of when the disciples faced a crowd of thousands of hungry people. They had no food. Time had gone by and the hour was late. It would have taken an amount of money beyond the limits of their resources to provide for the people. And yet… Jesus took the offering of the meager supplies they had: 5 loaves and 2 fish.
He gave thanks.
And they all ate and were satisfied.
(If that wasn’t enough) there were 12 basketfuls of broken pieces leftover.
I don’t know about you but I need to remember that God doesn’t ask me to pull out smoke and mirrors when the tough times come, when the needs are bigger than I can meet, when problems are greater than I can handle.
He is the God of the miracle of the loaves and fish.
I can’t imagine what it was like to be the disciples as Jesus told them to feed 5 thousand people. I can’t imagine what it was like to offer a tiny amount of food as 5 thousand+ sat hungry and Jesus held up 5 loaves and 2 fish. I can’t imagine what it was like as that miracle unfolded and all were satisfied. I can’t imagine what it was like to see 12 basketfuls were collected after.
And there are things I face that I can’t imagine how it is possibly going to work out. I can’t see how the little I have can possibly make a difference. I can’t fathom how God will work a miracle. I’m holding tight to what little I have, unwilling to hand it over, unable to imagine how giving up… breaking up what little I have could possibly meet a need thousand times bigger.
Some days I come face-to-face with the reality that I’m so busy trying to finagle smoke and mirrors to “fix” things that God is ready to loaves and fish style miracle.
What does it really look like in day to day living to put down the smoke and mirrors and be willing to give up the little so that God can accomplish the greater? What do I have to be willing to allow God to take and break so that He can accomplish the unimaginable? How many times do I sit there like the thousands waiting for someone to give of their little to meet my need? What if I choose to look beyond the smoke and mirrors beyond the little that is in my hands, beyond the need that is bigger than I could ever meet… and instead… with a heart willing to give, with faith to believe, and with eyes to see… look beyond to the God of loaves and fish miracles?
How about you?