In preparation for the opening of the 6th Harry Potter movie next week, Drew and I have embarked on a Potter movie mini-marathon. From the time we began reading the books together when Drew was about 13, we have enjoyed the inventiveness, humor and adventure of JK Rowling’s stories. (And yes, early on we dealt with the difference between the fantasy of well-written children’s fiction and the reality defined by the revelation of Scripture. They are not incompatible.)
Ever so often in the stories, there is a moment of unusual insight that causes a person to reflect a bit more deeply. In the first story, Harry (who was orphaned as a child) stumbles on the Mirror of Erised. When he looks in the mirror, he sees the parents he never met and even feels their hand on his shoulder.
The wizard Dumbledore comes to explain the power of the magical mirror: “It will show the happiest man on earth exactly as he is. It shows us no more and no less than the deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts…But remember…this mirror gives us neither knowledge nor truth.” In other words, there is a level of deep self- awareness…but it comes without context or meaning.
So, a question: If there were such a mirror, what would it reveal to you, of you? What are the deepest longings and dreams of your heart? You know, the things that linger around the edge of your mind as you drift off to sleep at night. Or that internal vision or drive that moulds the shape of your days. The true center that marks you, that nobody else knows—maybe not even you. What would the mirror show?
But what if you know…but really know nothing? An old Rich Mullins song once said, “They told me to follow my nose, but my nose only led me into my chest.” Self-awareness and self-analysis can only go so far. The longings of our own hearts can be alluring, mesmerizing—and paralyzing. So Dumbledore gives this warning, “Men have wasted away in front of it…It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” The point is always to live.
Maybe there’s another mirror. One that can look honestly at your dreams and deepest longings—and give you knowledge and truth by which you live. Is there such a place?
Yes. James 1:21-25 encourages us to
“get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”
It is the word of God which shows us our true selves, charts the path of our God-given destiny, and then sets us free to choose to live it, with joy! The word shows my hidden agendas and idols so I can deal with them. It reveals the heart of the gospel tucked in easily missed parts of my life. It shows God’s best path for me and for His glory.
Gaze long and think deep on God’s Word. Apply it practically and obey the Spirit’s promptings through it. Then you can do more than wish achingly over your dreams. You will live, in present tense, the abundant life God has attached to your name.