My imaginary friend is special..a little outside the norm as imaginary friends go.
First, my friend does not share a gender identification with me. She is a she.
Second, others can see her but I can’t.
Third, only I know her real identity. And only I can understand who she is to me, correctly.
So, it sounds like a relationship gone wrong, right? What makes her imaginary, besides the fact I can’t see her anymore?
I submit to myself encouragement from the book of Hebrews in the Bible, “faith is the evidence of things of unseen, the substance of things hoped for”.
You know the bumper sticker, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”
When left to a trite level the sticker is just that, trite.
But if you’re really trying to put such a childlike trust into action, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.
You know how life goes…God is in the business of preparing his kids for His kingdom. In doing so, He seemingly often likes to strip us of many of our sources of earthly comfort, in the process of us maybe using some of our imagination in beginning to see and trust Him for who He is.
Well, imagination doesn’t stand alone. And changing gears for God’s kingdom looks different for different folks. Leaving immediate family for your own, new family is a big gear change. Leaving the big city ripe with job opportunities to start a church in the country…could be another.
What about when He asks you to flip imaginary onto its head…until imaginary begins to take shape, and precedence over the seen, the felt, the observed? Now, this you must agree sounds like an accurate description of prep for an other worldly kingdom inhabitation.
This begs some digging. So we have a few instances in the Bible where it is recorded that God required some serious, committed imagination, via an agreement between Himself and an individual. We have Adam, guardian over creation…well that covenant was broken, and adjusted. Then we have Noah, preserver of creation…after Noah complied, God said no more destroying the earth. Then Abraham, with the huge family line of believers promised to him..King David, and Jesus, the author and fulfillment of the “New Covenant”, the one in which we stand, freed by reliance on His ultimate sacrifice for sin.
These examples required much faith, a God-inspired imagination to sustain, perhaps their own resolve…
‘How is this gonna work out? Myself and my wife are pretty darn old already.’ – Abraham
‘How are you going to save your people, Jesus?…by dying??’ – the disciples
You get the point. It can definitely get hairy, especially at the outset, when you get the knock at your door, informing you that something is coming (something mostly unfamiliar), therefore something must be done (ambiguous feats of faith and hope and waiting). So in order to connect your faith to the source that keeps it going, imagination certainly helps.
So no, a 16 yr old imagination with the car keys for the first time doesn’t seem to ease your mind too much. But a disciplined imagination, asked to build Solomon’s temple for example…enter superman: “but this great weapon in the wrong hands could…!”
Of course imagination can make a mess. It can throw you into a tizzy. I get that. If Mary and Joseph had spent hours ruminating on the worse case scenario for Jesus’ birth,…stress?…panic attacks? But you would agree they would have to give the idea some imagination, to keep from feeling like lunatics who doubted God. I’m calling it mental yoga, preparing the mind for the shocks of following the Lord, and reminding of His promises and His deliverance.
Ok, so imagination plays an important part. Now, if you were like me, playing by myself as a 10 year old rather vigorously lost in my imagination after an especially good episode of the old cartoon Transformers, you would have known that if you gave your revved up imagination an inch, it might run away with it, and you. And you would agree that the embarrassment would come, from annoying older cousins telling you to come back down off of cloud 9. But you would note that hey, my mind must be plenty healthy to be able to work like this.
I started this entry with a nod to my personal life, partly because I want to illustrate something, and honestly hopefully work out some of my own situation. 🙂
So I’ve argued the good of imagination. Now I ask how related to each other are imagination and faith?…
“Faith is the evidence of things unseen”…God called Noah to an extraordinary act of trust. Noah’s agreement and dedication to the task produced the FAITH that carried the job to its completion.
“…the substance of things hoped for”
FAITH is the goal of our strivings. God knows it is the ultimate tool for living the right life. But it is a wonderful tool because it reminds us that in exercising our faith, we are not spinning our wheels. It is in fact our connector to hope. And HOPE doesn’t disappoint.
At this point, I have tried to cling to a continuation of my old friend and I being friends, instead of relinquishing her back to my imagination, or good memories, and let God do His thing for now…or for forever with us back to our own gigs.
Imagination, I would say is most useful because…
It can provide a welcome distraction, a rest for the brain.
It can encourage the developing of faith and hope, as it helps the mind give the task at hand some shape.
And I can see it assisting men with empathy, with each other and with God’s design, to grand for us.
But to weary travelers…Guard your heart. A pure heart can keep the imagination from taking the tongue hostage.
Let me know when you see my friend :)https://getbuiltchattanooga.com