Don’t Use Your Imagination (like that)

As I belong to part of the generation that was raised by Mr. Rogers, I have been taught the importance of using my imagination. I was shown that is it can take me to a wonderful realm of small trains and creepy hand puppets. And for some reason, I always remember the episode that showed me how crayons were made.

Recently, the concept of imagination is something that has intrigued me again. Perhaps it is because it is not as socially acceptable at this age to use it, or talk about using it. We are all encouraged from an early age to use our imaginations. It is talked about it a good way. It is good, healthy, and right to use your imagination (even if it means you have an imaginary friend named Frank).

But could the use of your imagination ever be bad? Could it ever be really unhealthy?

W. P. Young in his book, The Shack, uses a conversation between Jesus and the main character to say something incredibly profound about imagination:

“Exactly,” Jesus interrupted, “You imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes you so like us. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel task master.” (emphasis mine)

Without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster.

Think about it this way: how much time do we spend thinking about the future? Many of us can plan out what we imagine will happen to us. We can trace different trajectories, see different outcomes. And for many of us, this develops stress and anxiety and worry. For others, it can be truly paralyzing, keeping us from engaging in the world around us because we are so afraid.

But in our imaginings, where is God? Do we imagine that He will provide for us like He has already? Do we try to think of creative ways in which He may work in us and around us and through us? Do we really think he knows better than we do?

If we are honest, we don’t include God in our imagination; because it is our imagination. It is our way to say we trust God when we really trust ourselves. It is our way of nominally confessing our dependence on him while leaning on our own understandings. Because, if we’re honest (and I am being honest here about myself) we think we know best and we are scared of what could come our way, especially if it means being out of control.

Proverbs 26:12-13 says it this way:
“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road,
a fierce lion roaming the streets!””

Really? A lion roaming the streets? That is quite an imagination! But we do this all the time.

Now, imagine if we took that creative impulse and channeled it with these truths in mind:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:21-22)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

So, yes. “Grow ideas in the garden of your mind.” But don’t worry about pests, crop production, weather patterns, or whether they are growing fast enough. Trust that if you plant them, God will grow them exactly how they need to grow. Those are all things you could never control, not even in your wildest imagination…

Advent, awakening, worship

Catching Up on Advent

“I am so, very behind.”

For many of us, this can become as constant of a mantra as, “I’m so busy,” or “I can’t believe it’s already Christmastime,” or “I have so much to do.”

When we say things over and over again, they tend to become true, even if they don’t start out that way.

Regardless, I feel behind. And this, in fact, is true as it relates to the Advent season. The second Sunday of Advent has come and gone, and I have yet to really enter into this time intentionally. Well, that is, until today. And I believe there is some purpose behind it.

Fr. Richard Rohr has written a wonderful little book called “Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent”. I highly recommend you get it on Amazon here. I decided to pick it up for the first time this morning and try to catch up on the readings. And I am glad I did, because it brought together my entire Sunday experience: all bound up in the word “Hope”.

It was this passage that got me.

‘Come, Lord Jesus,’ the Advent mantra, means that all of Christian history has to live out of a kind of deliberate emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now…When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, “Why weren’t you this for me? Why didn’t life do that for me?” we are refusing to say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We are refusing to hold out for the full picture that is always given by God. “Come, Lord Jesus” is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope. The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves…’Come, Lord Jesus’ is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of cosmic hope.” (emphasis mine)

So, here’s to learning contentment in the midst our unresolved, fragmented, and often confusing lives.

What does it look like for you to hold to hope?

I encourage you to also read Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 1:5-25.