Insights through Illusion for Daily Living

How to Make an Impact by Embracing Your Strength


You’ve just done something that no one has ever seen before.  In fact it might be the most impressive thing in your career, or any of your contemporaries.  5,200 people are watching live as you vanish a giant elephant in the middle of an open stage.  You wait with baited breath, as you make the motions to display that the elephant is in fact gone.  You then hear it.  The sound you have been building to for the last 10 minutes, the reaction of 5,200 mouths, 10,400 hands.

But instead you hear what sounds remotely like mumbling….shrugging….and polite failing applause.

You are Harry Houdini, and you are the worst magician of the 1920s.

Now to most people what I just described sounds like an alternate universe, but to Houdini, it was real.

The New York Hippodrome was home to the grandest entertainment available.  Not pompous or pretentious like Broadway, but the working man’s entertainment.  Acrobats, magicians, Vaudeville.  It was the stage to perform on for variety entertainers.

What happened?

Why was Houdini the worst magician, yet the one that everyone still hears on a regular basis nearly 100 years later?

It’s because Houdini, discovered his weakness, and in doing so discovered his strength.  Houdini’s memory lives on today as the greatest magician of all time. That’s only because of the technicality that magicians and escape artists are now synonymous. Houdini was famous for escaping from everything they could put in front of him.  Prison cells, handcuffs, straight jackets, and anything else made to restrain, couldn’t hold Harry Houdini.

The problem is though he wasn’t happy with that, he wanted to be known as a magician. He had zero showmanship, which was vital to an illusionist during the era.  He was brash.  He wasn’t elegant like his contemporaries.  The question remains though, why has every household in 2012 heard of Harry Houdini, and not T. Nelson Downs, or Harry Keller, or Howard Thurston?  The reason is that Houdini recognized his weakness, and played to his strengths.  Escapes.

Houdini left a legacy because he put aside his weakness.  He embraced his strengths.  The things that he could do that others couldn’t, the things that made him different.

We are not Superman

Weakness.  It’s something we don’t like to talk about because we are invulnerable. We have no weakness, we can’t be touched.  Weakness is for…..the weak, and we are strong…..right?  I’m not weak am I?  This insecurity, it’s not weakness is it?

We all have weaknesses that we can embrace and attack, or that we can embrace and succumb to.  The thing is though, no matter what our weaknesses are, God has given us strength.  He has blessed each of us with abilities and gifts that we can use for His glory.  Too many times we hear people say, “I have nothing to offer.”  The problem is that we have told ourselves that lie so many times that we believe it.  Think about it for a minute what are you good at?  What is a way in which God can use you?  We gloss over strength sometimes because we think of physical strength.  That’s not what it’s about at all.  You have a gift that you can use to glorify God.

Use Your Strengths

We all have strengths, but we all have weaknesses.  Ways that we can be attacked and led to a place where we do nothing positive for the cause of Christ.  I think of Hebrews 12.  Lay aside the weight and the sin which so easily entangles us or holds us back, and run with endurance.  Use your strengths to run this race.  Use your strength to make an impact for the kingdom.  Put down the weight of sin and weakness that holds you back, and get to running.  I don’t want the reaction from God to be a shrug and a groan.  I want to hear, “well done, good and faithful servant”

Well done, that’s what I’m racing for, what about you?

What strengths do you have?

What weaknesses?

How can you put away the weight of that weakness?

For more info on Harry Houdini:

Hiding The Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear

by Jim Steinmeyer

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