Drama club was one of the few school activities that I pursued in both Middle and High School. I got to be in a few fun productions, but two were my favorites. In Middle School, I was in a play titled, “The Terror of Bigfoot.” That was in the later seventies when Bigfoot was all the rage. I did not play the titular character, but rather a professor studying cryptozoology. I still remember my lines to this day. And the other favorite was our High School production of, “The Hobbit.” Again, I did not portray the main character, but rather, because I had a booming voice, was given the role of the goblin king. A booming voice was needed because my head was encased in a medicine ball sized papier-mâché goblin head!
Acting was a lot of fun because it was like playing pretend. To that point in my life, I had mastered pretend. My imagination was a rich playground that had been well-fed on Bible stories, comic books, my mother’s stories (which were always compelling and told with theatrical flair), and Saturday morning cartoons. I’d honed the pretensive skills of play with my cousins and other neighborhood kids. Many times, I was the narrator of our adventures as well as a participant. While this was good fodder for being in plays, I did not realize that training my imagination would prove so helpful for adult life.
As adults, we encounter any of myriad possible challenges and problems. This is where creative flair can be so useful. Some things do not yet have solutions. Others have partial fixes. But it is inventive genius that can conceive of novel solutions, and it is the partnership between knowledge and imagination that empowers such originality. But why is it that God gave us imaginations?
Certainly, the case can be made that God created us with imaginations so that we can adapt to our environment and thrive, but I don’t think that that is the highest purpose for this gift. I believe God graced us with imagination so that we can begin to behold the unseen realities of the spiritual realm. Granted, our perception in these esoteric realms is shadowy and limited, still, God made us with the mental apparatus to relate to Him. This is not to say that God is a figment or product of our imagination, but rather that our imagination enables a kind of seeing that makes Holy Mystery accessible, even if not entirely comprehensible.
So, how should we use our creative side with respect to God. First, we should ensure that as much of the data available regarding God is present in our knowledge by reading the Bible, doing the things God has commanded, and looking for truth. Imagination that is not tethered to God’s revelation through the Word of God will lead to false, dangerous ideas about God. But when what can be known about God is put alongside the creative imagination and governed by God’s Holy Spirit, we get amazing things. Handel’s “Messiah” with its transcendent “Hallelujah Chorus” comes to mind. Such resplendent wonders are the coming together of knowledge of God, imagination under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which is called inspiration), and a soul surrendered in worship and obedience to God. In fact, 1 Corinthians 2:9 Contemporary English Bible say, “But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.”
God is a creator whose imagination is boundless, and He delights to let us join Him in making and discovering wonders upon wonders. Remember that God has planned things for those who love Him that are greater than the sum of human knowledge, imagination, and experience. Even today, God’s goodness toward you is greater than you can know.
Contact Pastor Lamb at leadpastor@ imlaycityamazinggrace.org