My word for 2017 is “Imagination.” I am increasingly convinced that we (the human race in the 21st century) have an atrophied imagination. We are invited to endure as seeing Him who is invisible, and we are told that though we have not seen Him, we love Him. Though we do not now see Him, we believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory! God has equipped us with an imagination in order that we might actually believe in Him – relishing the incomprehensibly robust reality of God, and thoroughly enjoying Him and glorifying Him for who He is!
Our good friend CS Lewis believed that one of the most primary responsibilities and pleasures of the 20th century Christian was to re-mythologize the world; because – like in our own century – the world has been so sadly and sordidly demythologized. The plain and simple fact is this: true disciples of Jesus Christ are supernaturalists! If you’re trying to sound reasonable and seem sensible to society, and if you’re eager to avoid looking like a weirdo in the eyes of the world …then Christianity is simply not for you. My prayer for all of us is that we will experience with ever-increasing clarity the epiphany that Lewis describes, The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened. My hope is that God will enlighten us to the same extent that he enlightened GK Chesterton, whom He brought to realize that, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed!”
God insists that we use our imaginations!
For instance, when God describes what it’s like to be adopted into His household, He pictures the liberation of such an experience like this, “You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” It would be downright stubborn and stupid not to use your imagination when God deliberately illustrates redemption in this way.
One of the most intense and illustrative conversations between God and man is on display for us in Job chapters 38-41. Listen to, and relish, the imaginative way God chooses to communicate with man:
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Do you know on what were the bases of the earth sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? [note: God is saying to the biggest part of the planet (the ocean), “I swaddle you like a little baby!”]. Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? Have you entered the storehouses of snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scatted upon the earth? Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens?
Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword. With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet. When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar.
Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron. Or consider Leviathan… Can you put him on a leash for your girls? Lay your hands on him; remember the battle – you will not do it again! Who would dare bridle Leviathan? Who can open the doors of his face? Around his teeth is terror! His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal. One is so near to another that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another; they clasp each other and cannot be separated. His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.
Use your imagination! This is a marvelous command! It’s like being ordered to eat dessert …it is the joy set before you!