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A God of Imagination

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Psalm 24:1-3

The last couple days were beautiful, utterly and completely without flaw. This is expected of course, it is autumn in Seattle and the clouds remain in their storehouses a few more weeks.  It will not last long, but today the fall colors rage and crackle, burning a years worth of fuel in one blazing display. There is no need for imagination today.

Tomorrow however, or some day shortly after, reality will arrive; an unwelcome but familiar guest.  With him he will tow the granite monotony of northwest winter, too cold for color but too warm for white snow.   It is in these coming months imagination will be called upon, a salve for the quiet haunt of sunless days.  A trick of the mind that lets me paint in tones the clouds have torn away.

I have found a similar need in my spiritual life.  The need for imagination and creativity to fill the gaps, sometimes long, that stand between moments of God’s presence.  Sometimes it is quite trivial, a prayer that begins in simple words and sentences but moves into pictures, images and scenery. Often I picture Jesus walking along a mountain trail, with me tethered close behind.  We are walking towards a summit to worship, and as I look out across the range, I see thousands of people walking upwards as well.

Now, this is not to say it is some divine vision or a prophetic image from the Lord.  No, like all efforts of creativity, it is merely a shuffling, a reordering, of the raw material God has given us.  But I think it is very valuable, because it allows us to know and experience God in a way words alone cannot describe.  This, of course, is why cathedrals were first built. Because there is something in the visual sense, even in a building, that opens up a unique connection to the Lord.

Often the most fruitful imaginations are those set to stories in the Bible. Yes, the Gospels tell us Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey; they even describe the palm fronds laid before Him.  But they do not tell us the color of the dust beneath His feet.  They do not tell us the color of the blood as it pooled with the dirt in the scourges to come.

And this is where the true blessing comes.  The Bible was written to invoke a response; it was written so that the reader is compelled to a confrontation.  A confrontation with the reality of God. And this response, I have found, is so much stronger and richer when we allow our mind the room to explore the details with our imagination.


Comment from Jeff Lesan
Time November 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm

This is an area that I am just starting to see the importance in. Thanks for sharing this.

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