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Posts Tagged ‘imagination’

 

“I made soup,” she says.

I peer into the pot to see a chicken leg, a whole apple, a cluster of green beans and an ice cream cone.

“Eat some!” she coaxes.

I spoon a bite and assure her, “Oh, this is delicious.”

She smiles broadly. “I make dessert.” And two-year old Maarit (Mah-rit), our granddaughter, trots back to her child-size kitchen to bake a plastic cake or pie.

 

 

It’s such fun to watch little ones enjoy their vivid imaginations, and it comes so naturally to them. No one has to teach toddlers how to pretend; they just do. But as we grow and leave childish things behind, most of us abandon our imaginings.

Oh, what we’re missing.

In a post a couple of years ago (Oh, Say Can You See), we looked at three ways an active imagination can positively impact our faith, helping us to better understand God, add insight to Bible reading, and see more in this incredible world he’s created.

Today let’s consider three more ways. 

  1. With an active imagination, we are more likely to see people and situations the way God sees them. 

In his Word he calls us to see people for what they could be and will be as they avail themselves of his transforming power. We’re also called to see situations with forward-looking faith in God’s ability to do far more than we can imagine (1).

By contrast, our thoughts too often veer to the negative. We forget what the Apostle Paul told us in Philippians 4:8—to think on excellent and praiseworthy things.

 

 

C. S. Lewis helped a woman do just that in a letter he wrote as she lay in a hospital contemplating the possibility of death:

“Think of yourself,” he said, “just as a seed patiently waiting in the earth: waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking. I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But the cock-crow is coming” (2).

Surely Lewis’s words stirred fresh hope in her heart as he awakened her imagination to a new perspective. In your mind’s eye, can you see excellent, praiseworthy events unfolding in the situation that most concerns you? Allow such imaginings to provide fresh hope for your heart.

  1. With an active imagination we can envision the kingdom of God that exists here and now, even though hidden from view. 

The very nature of faith requires imagination, because the kingdom of God cannot be perceived by the senses. It exists invisibly among and within those who invite King Jesus to rule in their lives (3). But our imaginations can help us access the invisible through the visible as we contemplate:

 

 

  • The glory of God in the splendor of creation
  • The rule of God in the organization of the universe
  • The goodness of God in our numerous blessings
  • The wisdom of God in his precepts that usher in abundant life
  • The power of God, as he transforms misery to joy, trouble to triumph, and even bitterness to forgiveness
  1. With an active imagination we can experience God more fully. 

For example, what if we:

 

 

  • Imagine God sitting with us as we pray, our hands pressed between his, his head leaning in close to hear our every word. Would it be easier to sense his presence, stay focused, and pray with more intensity?
  • Imagine God at our right hand as we work through our days (Psalm 121:5). He is our ever-present Protector, Guide, and Help. Might such visualization reduce stress? Could mindless tasks become sublime opportunities to enjoy his presence and access his strength?
  • Imagine God on his throne as we worship, with his dazzling radiance signifying splendor, and his voluminous robe representing power (4). Might the joy and passion of our worship-experience be enhanced as we contemplate his magnificence?

 

 

You might remember that Jesus held children in great regard. He suggested that adults become like little children to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:1-5). Granted, his emphasis was upon trust, loyalty and humility. But responding to him with the imagination of a child as well will help us fly beyond the stars.

 

 

I don’t want to miss that. I’m guessing you don’t either.    

 

Notes:

  1. Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 3:20
  2. The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950-1963, [2007]
  3. Hebrews 11:1; Luke 17:21
  4. Ezekiel 1:27; Isaiah 6:1-2

 

Photo credits:  http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.edwards.af.mil; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.goodfreephotos.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.flickr.com.; http://www.quotefancy.com.

 

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Fifteen minutes had passed since three-year old Elena had been tucked in for her afternoon nap, but she was still conversing with her buddies—the half-dozen or so stuffed animals she sleeps with.

I left my book to go settle her down.

“Elena, it’s time to be quiet and rest,” I reminded while re-tucking the blankets around her.  “You can talk to your buddies when you wake up.”

“But I can’t rest,” she replied, her wide, innocent eyes locked with mine. “They keep talking and talking so I can’t go to sleep.”

Don’t you love the vivid imaginations of young children?

Why does that ability diminish over time? What happens to that creative nook of the mind as we grow older?

In reality, the ability to imagine has its purpose even into adulthood, and into the serious realm of faith. According to theologian and author, Leslie Weatherhead (1893-1976):

 

“Faith is imagination grown up.”

 

M-m-m. He makes an astute observation. Faith is greatly enhanced by engaging the imagination. For example:

 

We can use our imaginations to better understand God.

The Bible includes a variety of metaphors that help us know him. As we apply our imaginations, what might we see?

  • God, our Shepherd (Isaiah 40:10), rubbing his hand lovingly over the heads of his sheep one by one, or resting his cheek against the neck of a lamb while cradling her in his arms. How caring and affectionate he is.

 

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  • God, our Father (Psalm 103:13-14), with attentive ears and tender eyes upon a child who’s pouring out her heart of pain. Note the furrow in his brow because one of his precious children is hurting. How compassionate he is.

 

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  • God, our Shield (Psalm 3:3)—strong in body, alert in mind, passionate in spirit, never distracted, never weary, and always attentive. How determined he is to protect us.

 

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We can use our imaginations to add insight to Bible reading.

For example, imagine you are the innkeeper in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-36). The kind traveler explains the situation and announces he will personally care for the injured Jewish man.  Surely you respond with a slight jerk of surprise. That’s just not done! you think. Too much bad blood between Jews and Samaritans. Why does he care so much?

 

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(The Good Samaritan by Rembrandt)

 

As we imagine such details, we discover more insight: The demonstration of sacrificial love like the Good Samaritan may compel observers to ask important questions.

 

We can use our imaginations to see more in the natural world.

The great theologian, Jonathan Edwards, used his imagination to see scripture themes in nature.

  • Butterflies provided images of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Spider webs illustrated the devious ways of Satan to entrap us.
  • Sunrises demonstrated the brilliance of God’s grace.

 

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With a bit of effort we could add to Edwards’ list:

  • The unending treasures of God’s creation speak of his eternal glory
  • A light summer breeze brings to mind the wind of the Spirit–gentle and grace-filled–wafting from person to person through a kind word, a small favor, a listening ear.
  • When leaves sway back and forth like church bells, the trees are clapping their hands (Isaiah 55:12). I’ll bet God hears their praise too.

 

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I’m thinking, faith is not only enhanced by the imagination; faith requires the imagination in order to accept a spiritual dimension beyond our five senses, an invisible but all-powerful God who exists as Spirit, and his Son who resides in us and with us (2 Corinthians 13:5; Matthew 28:20).

 

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Oh say, can you see?

 

How has your imagination impacted your faith?  Please share your experience in the comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.pixabay.com; http://www.dailylifeverse.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.freestockphotos.biz.; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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