“Everyone has to go through Magicland first in order to figure all this supernatural stuff out,” my professor laughed. I couldn’t help but smile as the last few years of my college career had attested to this statement. I hoped that I was at the end of my time in Magicland, recognizing that some of the students around me were just entering that strange space for the first time, while others were refusing to go anywhere near it.
If you’ve ever chased after the Holy Spirit before, chances are you’ve been to Magicland. It’s that place at the beginning of the journey where you’ve had just enough supernatural experience that you begin to think that you can do anything. You’ve seen the impossible happen and now you chase the high, waiting to see how far this can all go. It’s that mental space where outrageous statements made by supernaturally-minded itinerant preachers seem the most powerful.
For example, I seem to recall reading a book while in Magicland that informed me that humanity used to be able to fly around before leaving the Garden of Eden. I wasn’t really sure what to make of such a radical, unbiblical statement, but with a raised eyebrow and some intrigue, I continued to read the book until I finished it. Magicland can be so blinding that such incredible statements come across as theologically and spiritually deep. If I read the same book today I would literally laugh out loud and then close it and never read it again.
Now don’t hear me wrong: I’m incredibly supernaturally-minded. I’ve seen things that are hard to understand and I’ve had experiences that have cemented the reality of the Holy Spirit in my life. Trust me: There are things I believe the Holy Spirit can do that would make you laugh out loud and not listen to me.
But now I’ve passed through Magicland—the land of initiation. Now I write from the land on The Otherside, where “with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26), but the material world and the mundane repetitions of life also exist. It’s a place not filled to the brim with mountaintop highs, but well acquainted with the ordinariness of everyday life.
Some supernaturalists would say that I lack faith or that I don’t know the true depths of the Spirit or that my life isn’t true life, but I disagree. It is here in the balance of the natural and the supernatural that I feel I serve and know God best; for I am both natural and supernatural—both body and spirit.
The Otherside is not a place of spiritual immaturity and faithlessness—quite the contrary actually. To be aware of both science and spirit is to know oneself and the world around them on a fuller level. It’s neither the extremist denial that spiritual gifts died with the apostles (cessationism); nor the extremist belief that the material world is all there is; nor the ridiculous notion that I will receive everything I name and claim; nor the maddening theology of the prosperity gospel that appears literally anti-christ when read alongside Jesus’ teachings—especially those given on the Sermon on the Mount.
Some never enter The Otherside because the narrative offered in Magicland is more preferable. Others enter Magicland and are so appalled at what they find that they run as far back the other direction as they can. And still others enter that place, live there for years and then mysteriously decide none of it was real and trade it all in for either bland Christianity, agnosticism or even atheism.
I write to you from The Otherside, where sometimes things make sense and sometimes they don’t; where sometimes you don’t get what you pray for and other times you continue to pray until you do; and still other times you don’t get it at all and you never know the reason! It’s a place where one can experience both the tension of this world and the deep, deep presence of God. Yes, the supernatural world is well at play here, but so is the scientific one.