Surrounded by the vibrant glow of perfectly created stained glass windows in our chapel on Monday, I listened while my friend and pastor read an excerpt from the novel "The Shack". I haven't read the book but I could tell it meant a lot to her since many of pages had green or red tabs hanging off them and the spine was worn into lines.
She read a scene from the story describing a moment when Jesus was asking the main character named Mack to step off a dock onto the water. He wanted him to walk on water. I loved this conversation because I have always been drawn to Matthew 14 when Jesus is asking Peter to step out of the boat and walk with him on the water. In fact, that passage was used in our wedding.
Jesus asks Mack why he won't just do it and Mack lists lots of reasons that you probably would too. Then he said something along the lines of "I just imagine..." and Jesus stopped him.
Jesus explained that our gift as human beings made in the image of God is that we can imagine. The frustrating part is that we use this gift in some of the most unproductive, wasteful possible ways. Most humans use their gift of imagination to imagine the future. All the wonderings, plans, and what-ifs seem to come back down to worry and fear. Most of our future thinking is bundled in fear. Future thinking is always the most wasteful use of our time since it hasn't happened yet. We are just making things up and most of the time, sprinkling a heavy dose of fear into places where it would not have lived in the first place.
This Jesus in the book spoke a lot like the one I believe in. This Jesus explained that we are called to live in the present, the moment, the now. It is only here that there is love, purpose, creativity, hope, faith, tenderness. Life is only happening right now. What if we used our imaginations in the moment?
That idea rocked me.
I love talking about imagination. When I think of it I fill up with a child-like warmth that began on my parents brown carpet as I watched Lamar Burton from Reading Rainbow describe how I can imagine ANYTHING! This breathes out an excitement that fueled creative explosions of artwork, games, forts, and relationships throughout my childhood.
I am as guilty as Mack now that I am an adult. I spend very few moments in my life using my imagination in my present. I use it to worry about people I love or to create scenarios where the worst could happen. These are all feeble attempts at controlling my life, controlling how I would react or cope when the worst of life might happen. I guess in a way, I hope it will guard me from those things. No matter why I do it, it is a colossal waste of my God-given life and time.
I have not ever imagined what it would be like to use my imagination in the present moment. My first vision of this attempt pictured myself at a table painting a huge piece of art. Painting, creating, dancing are all wonderful ways that I use my imagination in the present. I love those moments and ease into the glorious "flow" that so many people describe when they have bursts of creativity give them the experience of purpose.
This could happen all the time in every area of my life if I let my imagination live and grow where God intended it to be- in the present with me and with Him.