KEY SCRIPTURE: Proverbs 12:02
Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.
Following on from Sunday's blog, Are You a Passive or Active Christian? I thought I would plough the topic of imagination again.
I can remember my childhood back to when I was about four years old. You might be the same. Beyond that, it's up to the rest of my family to fill in that space. Apparently, the reason is called childhood or infantile amnesia. Our memories before then are hazy.
The unhazy memory I have from that era is of me with no shoes and a piece of coloured chalk drawing on the outside wall of our house near the front door. The trouble with that? The house was coated in an off-white cement render, and my writing, intelligible only to myself, wouldn't come off easily. I liked how the chalk bit into the render more thickly than the old masonite blackboard. As I stood back admiring my short story of unpronounceable letters and strokes, Mum appeared. Suffice it to say, my early writing days ended there. Well, on that rough-textured medium, anyhow.
I am talking about imagination here. When we are young, imagination is everything. It encompasses all we do. We only need to look at the movie Toy Story to see how significant it is. Whether we're young or old, all of us like that movie and recall bits of it in our own lives. Even at my age now, imagination is just as important. If I can't imagine, how do I prepare?
From Genesis to Revelation, God's Word ignites the imagination. Without it, we're doomed, and life is pointless. Maybe that is another difference between humans and animals.
I recall a Primary School end-of-year Christmas bash if you could call it that in 1967. It was held at the old community hall in the next paddock to the school. My sister Helene dressed me up in a pirate outfit, complete with a cheap, shiny plastic pirate sword, head bandana, homemade leather eye patch, and black texta'd front tooth to make it look like it was missing. I swashbuckled my way through the next two hours, slaying everyone in my path—parent, youth or granny. Nobody escaped. I was Blackbeard himself, reincarnated.
Yet, some kids of the same age stole, lied and created trouble. So, how do we move from the imaginations of pirates, cowboys, and dolls, to sin?
Satan has no age or religious boundaries when it comes to using our imagination against us. We imagine, then do, whether it is godly or evil. We only need to get away with the wrong thing once to give it a second shot. If we escape punishment at that stage, we're off and running.
Satan starts firing up the kiln of our imagination towards evil as early as he can, and we need to start early doing the opposite. In today's education system, Satan is getting into children's imaginations at the earliest of ages—as young as preschool (From years 0-4)—based on a United Nations 2010 sexuality re-education curriculum.
In formative years, parents are responsible for the direction of their children's imagination. Many scriptures point directly to this. Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child (or more specifically a child's imagination) in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. We must grow the child's mind to think and imagine a wonderful life with Christ.
When we raise kids, we make a fundamental mistake in failing to understand we're raising and guiding their imaginations. If we can engage their imaginations, they will do the rest. God's aim will become their aim. As Ruth told Naomi, thy God shall be my God, thy people my people.
The trouble is, we're so scared of them running away from God later in life that we try to force God upon them as children. But it's from the basis of our own fear, raising them using more commandment than engagement. This often produces the reverse of what we hope for.
Of course, imagination needs godly boundaries. Philippians 4 tells us to focus our own minds on stories, events, futures, etc, that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, and obviously pass these on to our children.
We teach God's ten limitations of imagination early, not as a threatening stick, but by using our own imaginations to expand each truth and engage their minds as to how those ten apply in real life. This will help them appreciate each commandment's role in their passions and creative faculties, providing principles for thought. (Exodus 20).
We can also teach them to pray correctly from the outset and, importantly, to believe God, thus removing years of confusion and anxiety. Philippians 4:6: Don't worry about anything; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Our biblical heroes lived on inspiration, their imagination and desire readily engaged. We can do more for ourselves and others by activating the same.
Dear Lord, thank you that so many of your followers chose you and your Word to direct their imaginations. Please guide mine.
Photo by Praveesh Palakeel