One of my favorite toys as a kid was the mysterious Magic 8 Ball®. Have you ever seen one of these? It’s basically a super-sized black billiard ball with a tiny, plastic window to the future. Inside the window is a 20-sided die immersed in liquid with various answers to yes or no questions printed on its sides. Ask the Magic 8 Ball® a question, flip it over and the answer will materialize in the murky depths of the blue future juice.
My conversations with the 8 ball always went something like this. I’d say, “Oh, Magic 8 Ball®, will I someday be rich?” I’d turn it over, and the 8 ball would say, “It is decidedly so.” Woo-hoo! Score.
The Magic 8 Ball® had ten positive answers, five vague answers (like “reply hazy, try again later”) and five negative answers. So I learned that you always wanted to ask questions that had a positive outcome like, “Will I become a NASA pilot?” and not questions like, “Will I die in a grisly shark attack?”
The best part about the 8 ball, though, is that if it didn’t give me the answer I wanted, I could just turn it upside down and try it again. With half of the answers being affirmative, it was just a matter of time before the future predictor came around to my way of thinking.
Honestly, sometimes I wish God were like a Magic 8 Ball®. I’d like to be able to pick Him up, ask Him a question about my future, flip Him over and get the answer. If He didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, I’d just turn Him back over and ask again. Eventually, He’d give me a happy answer and make it so.
Truth be told, sometimes I’ve treated the Bible like that. I’ve opened it randomly and if there was a positive verse on the page, I assumed it must be God talking to me. If I opened it up to something gloomy, I turned the page. Time to shake up the Magic 8 Ball® and try again.
One time before a big test in college, I tried this trick and prayed, “God, just give me some encouragement today, just something to calm my nerves before this test.” Then I opened my Bible to a random spot. It was Psalm 22 which begins, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”
Really funny, God. Really funny.
The fact of the matter is, God’s not a Magic 8 Ball®. I cannot pick Him up and demand clarity for my future. Sometimes when God speaks, it is reassuring. Other times it’s challenging, and He tells me hard truth that I don’t want to hear. Still other times, I feel like my prayers are answered with a “reply is hazy, try again later.”
This can be frustrating until I remember that God’s not worried about my future because He already has it well in hand. I don’t need to know my future. I just need to know my God.
Instead of a Magic 8 Ball®, I have a shepherd who leads me into my future one step at a time. I don’t need to know or manipulate the days of ahead of me. I just simply need to trust and follow Him. That’s where my faith becomes real.
Can I count on God’s character? Can I trust Him to work out the details of my life? In the words of the Magic 8 Ball®, “Yes, it is decidedly so.”