As a young boy, I had a vivid imagination. I could write a story at the drop of a hat, the simplest items provided a depth of entertainment, and nature was a world of adventure. As I entered my teenage years and eventually adulthood, my mind glommed onto other things, and the colourful imagination of boyhood began to fade into dormancy.
I am sad to say that the darkest time for my imagination was after high school when I started to follow Jesus. It was not his fault; it was the result of what I thought my environment demanded of me. Jesus led me into pastoral ministry in the charismatic stream of Christian life, and although I was not sure, I thought being a pastor might be about “running a church” and a plethora of “-ologies”. Regardless, I knew that people praised me if I did it well, and what did my playful imagination from childhood have to do with that? Oh, the greyness of those times. My intelligence was still there, but what good is intelligence without imagination?
It is actually quite boring.
Imagination is an important part of my relationship with God. As goes my creative imagination, so goes my joy of being with and in Christ. Thankfully, God in his grace did not allow that part of me to atrophy. Part of his resuscitation of this child-like quality in me was through the discovery of spiritual formation. He used the contemplative stream of Christian spirituality to water my imagination and rouse it from its stale hibernation. Whispers of God’s love brushed my ears as he invited me to imagine a better way.
And there is a better way. There is a better way for me, and for the Church as a whole. Creative pursuit, imagination, even joy in colouring God’s love (rather than singing about it) are avenues into the depths of God. They help us pray. Supplication may be about seeing needs with our eyes and taking them to God, but a prayerful imagination ignites devotion. It can kindle embers into flames and pierce thick clouds of despondency like a laser.
May the Spirit of God breathe life into our creative, child-like imagination, filling it with prayers and yearnings, inviting us and igniting us to journey deeper into the depths of God than we ever imagined possible.
I’m also interested to hear from you. What creative pursuits lead you into worship?