This Week in History – The Secret of an Escape Artist


“How did they do that?”

Even the most skeptical among us can occasionally be wowed by a magician’s illusion. We’re surprised by the unexpected.

One of the most well-known and popular magicians of the last century was Harry Houdini. Houdini, who died October 31, 1926, started with the standard routine of magicians, but found his niche as an escape artist. With great showmanship, he escaped from:

  • Handcuffs and straitjackets
  • Locked boxes underwater
  • Milk cans
  • Prison cells
  • Combinations of all these

How did he do it? Houdini would occasionally “let it slip” that he was incredibly double-jointed. But that was not his secret.

In fact, it wasn’t even true.

Houdini told this lie to keep other illusionists from discovering his secret and copying what he did. He didn’t want the competition.

So what was his secret? He worked hard.

Harry Houdini was disciplined. He practiced and practiced. He trained his body, he mastered the locks, and he kept at it until he could pull off the trick.

Houdini has motivated me to write another book. (Here’s my other book idea.) You can publish a book on the secret to success in you-name-it, and people will buy it. So I’m going to write a book  and call it simply The Secret to Success.

Chapter One. Work hard.
Chapter Two. Repeat chapter one.

Let me make a connection to the Christian life. (You knew this was coming.) Bookstores are full of books on living the Christian life. I know. I love to read them. But I could boil it down to this:

Chapter One. Live under the lordship of Christ.
Chapter Two. Repeat chapter one.

There are no secrets to the Christian life. It’s all wrapped up in Jesus. His death removed the barrier of our sin, and His resurrection brought us a new life. He is the Lord of life who conquered death. We are to live joyfully surrendered under His lordship.

That’s not to say we don’t have to work hard. I know I do.

  • I work to fight temptation … by putting to death the desires of my old sin nature and choosing to live in obedience to Christ instead
  • I work to forgive others … by remembering the forgiveness of Christ that has been given to me.

We are told to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”  (Phil 2:12). What we have received through Christ must be “worked out,” just like exercising strengthens the muscles you already have. Yet, we never do this alone. We can “work out our salvation” as we live under the lordship of Christ, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (v. 13).

Work it out … by living in Christ. That’s a great formula for life.

In fact, it’s the only formula.

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