We have all heard the saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” but most of us don’t really live like we believe it. There are so many areas of our life where we try to live life without any consequence. That is after all the implication. If you eat the cake now, the end consequence is that you won’t have it later. Could there be an area of greater need to believe this truth than the area of our imaginations? I think not.
Imagination is a wonderful gift from God. It is the place where most of us live. Ted Dekker, in his book, The Slumber of Christianity, says it like this, “If you think about this carefully, you will quickly discover that we live in a world of imagination. The moment something becomes reality, it passes into history, right? Our minds are occupied primarily with memories of the past and imaginations of what might occur later. We experience the present, but that experience is so fleeting that our primary engagement of any experience is through the imagination, either in the form of anticipation or memory. We depend on our imaginations. So let’s embrace the imagination for a moment. It is a gift from our Creator. Now let’s define imagination . . . An imagination is the God-breathed ability to consider something not perceived by our senses in the immediate reality.” With every gift comes grave responsibility and the greater the gift the greater the potential for consequences if the gift is misused.
When it comes to the Christian life imagination is essential. We imagine the lives of the people in the Bible and transpose the lessons learned by them into our everyday experience. Our hope of heaven and our fear of hell are all made possible because of our imagination. Our understanding of who God is and what He is like was so far out our scope of imagination that Jesus had to come and give it all a point of reference. He did. His coming was twofold in fact. First and foremost, to pay the penalty of the sins committed against Him. He bore our sin upon the tree. But secondary, and yet for us just as significant, He put a face to the unseen God so that we could better understand Him in our imaging. Now we imagine with some boundaries.
Yet it is in our own imagination that we come face to face with our sinful hearts. It is here that we are set free to both become like Him in our relationships and love toward others and it is here that we stray toward longing to be free of Him so that we have the final say about who we are and what we do. In our imagining we have developed a very sophisticated way of transporting ourselves from present reality of what is and what is ordained to places where we can choose without consequence, or so we tell ourselves. As we make our own boundaries and teach our children to make theirs, we must ask ourselves hard questions. What is really happening in our hearts when we spend so much time in our books, our movies, our online relationships, and our gaming worlds? How can we enjoy our imaginations, setting boundaries around them so that we do not stray from the intended path of The One who created them?
There is potential, in this area of imagination, for growth and good and there is great danger of deterioration and dreadful consequences. What we allow to dominate our thoughts will affect our relationships, our core beliefs and even bring changes to our very character. First, we would do well to examine our own hearts and lives and then teach our children the skill of self-examination. It takes time to stop and examine our thoughts. Another saying comes to mind. Haste makes waste!
"It is dangerous to have zeal without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily makes poor choices." Proverbs 19:2 (NET Bible)