When you hear the word “imagination,” chances are you’ll put it in one of two boxes- it’s either child’s play or a path to deviance.
For a moment, let’s re-imagine imagination. There is great power in this tool.
What if we view our mind’s ability to be creative as a positive not a negative? This episode will challenge you to push past the idea that your imagination is a mere tool for daydreaming and that it is much more than an avenue to unwanted sexual behaviors.
By inviting the Holy Spirit into your imagination, you can begin to bring the Jesus of the Gospels alive in your day to day. This will take time and practice. Make sure you check out Josh’s blog for more ideas and practices.
Begin challenging yourself to use this gift as a way to connect to a Hope beyond your imagination.
The power of our imaginations is God given. And God wants to use our imaginations to move us away from the domain of darkness and toward the kingdom of light.
Satan wants you to believe your imagination only leads to what’s imaginary as opposed to what’s true and real and hidden.
J.R.R. Tolkien “At its best the fairy story or fantasy is far from being a flight from reality; it is rather a flight to reality.”
If you want to learn more, check out Josh’s latest musing on this topic at, How Imagination Helps Break the Grip of Porn
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
A lot of times when we think about the imagination, we think about it as something that’s childish, and maybe even something that can get us into trouble. So for those of us who have wrestled with sexual sin for long periods of our lives, we know the power of our imaginations when it comes to like things like sexual fantasy, or when it comes to things like viewing pornography, which is imaginary, it’s not real, it’s fiction. And we lose ourselves we disassociate from reality, using our imaginations. But our imaginations are not bad in and of themselves. And I suggest to you that one of the reasons that the enemy likes to co opt our imaginations into into doing bad things into fantasy and into engaging in pornography and into dreaming up ways who might not act out sexually in other ways. I think one of the reasons that enemy wants to get our imaginations on board with that stuff, is because he knows that the power of our imaginations are our God given. And that God wants to use our imaginations to actually move us away from the domain of darkness and toward the kingdom of light. When we pray, things like the Lord’s prayer, Lord, Your kingdom, calm and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. On the one hand, we can just pray through those words, you know, perfunctory prayer, Lord, Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Or we can enter into that prayer with our imaginations. What does it mean? That we’re praying, Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven? What would it look like in your life, if God’s Kingdom where to come? If God’s will work to be done in your life, as his will is always done in heaven? When we begin to ask questions like that and engage our imaginations, suddenly that prayer which could be perfunctory could be mundane, can begin to take on a passion can begin to stoke desire in US can begin to move us toward God in a way that is powerful. And this is, I believe, why God has given us our imaginations there to help us conceive of embrace, pursue, dive into, get our get our fingers into our desired reality, the hope we have for the future, or the hope we have for who we are truly meant to be. So I mean, think back with me for a minute, when you were a kid? How did you use your imagination when you were a kid? Now granted, some of us had rough things happen in our childhood, and we did use our imagination to disconnect from the hardship that we were experiencing. But even when we did that, where did we go in our imagination? I have a friend who would we just dive into superhero comic books. There’s something in him that was just drawn to the superheroes on the page. And the more I’ve gotten to know him, the more I’m like, Yeah, because that’s part of his design. This guy is just he wants to rescue he wants to help he wants to serve. Who did you imagine yourself to be? Who did you pretend to be when you’re a kid? Doctor, firefighter, teacher, mom, dad, hero, superhero, queen, or princess or prince? A dragon slayer? I mean, we imagined these things. And we could just kind of slough those off. Oh, you know, childhood dreams. But no, no. The reason that we had those imaginations as kids is because something in us deep in our hearts was longing to be a part of a bigger, better, more important story than we were currently living in. We aspired to greatness, not because we were prideful. But because God has created us for greatness. He’s created us for greatness. And to deny that Yosef peeper says, To deny that we’re created for greatness is you know, in a way to diminish God, it’s to say not your creation is actually not that impressive, not that important. When we, when we long for hope, desire, greatness in our lives, it’s not always just a matter of ego. It’s, it’s, I think, at its core, it’s a matter of, we desire a destiny that is bigger than we can, then we can gain on our own, in the imagination that God’s given us helps us to embrace that. In a similar way, when we’re stuck in sin or in a corollary when we’re stuck in sin, wrestling with unwanted sexual behaviors, for example, we can be just have this onslaught of shame, right? We have these these imaginations of ourselves these pictures of ourselves in our minds as as pathetic as weak, as dirty, as soiled as defective, as different than everybody else is, we might even imagine ourselves as, as caught, found out exposed, embarrassed, humiliated, cast out, all those kinds of things. But we can, instead of using our imagination to drive us further underground, that like shame does unhealthy shame does, we can use our imaginations to, to perceive ourselves see ourselves in the story of Christ’s rescue, his redemption, his restoration, we can see ourselves as a part of the story of the prodigal son. I mean, place yourself if you’re like, let’s do this right now. If you are feeling ashamed about some part of your life, and whether it’s a sexual sin, unwanted sexual behaviors, or something else that’s just out of control in your life. And you’re seeing yourself and you feel of yourself, you have pictures of yourself in some really negative light. Could you use your imagination in prayer right now? consecrate your imagination to the Lord right now, even right now. And see the father getting up off his porch and seeing you from a distance, dirty, soiled poor, having squandered all that he gave you. And lifting his robe up and running to you. And when he gets to you, not scolding you, but falling on you with kisses, and strong embrace, you haven’t felt for a long time. And you smell like pig and stink in mud. But he smells like like, like dad, he smells like like the the fragrance of a loving father. He smells clean and good. And his and his neck as he as he kisses you, as he embraces you, his his clean clothes and robe are getting soiled with the soil. It’s been on you and he doesn’t care. Because you mean so much to him. All he wants to do is get his arms around his daughter, his arms around his boy. And then he and then he stands back and he looks at you. And you think he’s just going to see your your your shaved head or your natty hair or your the soil over your face or, or the teeth you’ve lost, or the the scruff or the the poverty that’s just covering you. But instead he takes his thumbs and he wipes the soil away from your face. And you can tell he’s looking and he sees his daughter. He sees his son. And he looks at these eyes of compassion and love. And he steps back and he says your name. The name you haven’t heard for a long time because you’ve just been called all sorts of perverse and degrading things. But he says your name and he says it deep. And he says it with authority. And something in you just dares to believe in that moment that you might be his daughter or his son again. And then he takes your your hand that’s been soiled. And you’ve wiped some of the dirt off of it with his with his robe. And he places his ring on your finger again, his ring his ring, which is the sign of his authority, the sign of his wealth, he places it on your hand. Why not because you earned it. Because you need it right now more than he does. And he wraps you in his robe. And he puts his sandal on your feet and he and he calls his servants and he says kill the fatted calf because my son my daughter who was lost to me is now found. They were dead. But now they’re alive. She’s alive to me again. She’s here. He’s alive to me again, he’s here. And you expected he was going to send you out make you a day laborer, but he, he wants you in his household as his son or his daughter again. I didn’t mean to get into all that. But I was just compelled. You see how our imaginations can actually lead us deeper into the life of God deeper into his heart. The enemy doesn’t want that deeper into prayer. The enemy doesn’t want that he wants you to think that prayer is just supposed to be mundane. He wants you to think that your imagination only has can only lead you to what’s imaginary, as opposed to lead you into what’s true and real and hidden. And what the enemy himself has tried to hide from you all along. We shift gears here a little bit. You we can read in the genre in Scripture, the genre of Apocalypse reading the book of Revelation, for example. And I just got done with the book not too long ago in one of my seminary classes that talked about how we so often get misguided by the book of Revelation because we try to use it to determine the times the dates of the end and end of time. And this author was suggesting Jesus is clear we don’t know when the End of Time is gonna be. So that’s not that can’t be his intention with this book. This book is meant to to two people away the fiction or the artificial or the temporary that surrounds us and gets in our, in our head in our hearts, that the the the ruling powers the principalities and also the the governments want to get us to believe this is all there is. And the role of and the purpose of, of the genre of Apocalypse is to peel that all back and to and to give us a glimpse of the real reality, through story through fiction through apocalyptic literature. And that’s what apocalyptic literature is. And so the dragon may not be a real dragon, but it symbolizes evil. The the, the lake of fire may or may not be a real lake of fire, but, but it symbolizes the utter destruction of evil, etc, etc. And the role of Apocalypse is meant to engage, invigorated and alive in our imagination that we could conceive of what is real, even though the darkness around us wants to convince us that this is all there is. Anyway, so many different ways we can use our imagination. I wrote some different ways in my blog this week. But brothers and sisters, I just want to encourage you if you’re wrestling with the misuse of your imagination, the the objective is the solution is the freedom that you’re going to find is not by getting rid of your imagination and living in reality, far from it, far from it, because the real reality of God is greater than anything you can ask or imagine that what God has in store for you is greater than anything you could ever ask for. Or imagine. That’s what Paul writes to the church in Ephesus. And so use your imagination. Imagine God’s goodness, imagine God’s beauty. Imagine the truer truth that God has for you the realer realities that are in store for those who follow God and, and do that not to dissociate from this current life, but do it that you might put a stake in the ground and say NO to temptation that wants to lead you towards a sinful fiction, and say yes, to God’s reality. I want to I want to read you a quote by JRR Tolkien who is the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He and the and his and CS Lewis and George MacDonald and other writers of their time, really saw the value of story in a fiction and a fantasy, to to help people break free from kind of the illusion that that this current reality is all the reality there ever will be or ever was, and to embrace the reality and to perceive the reality of God that is to come. And Tolkien says this, he says, at its best, the fairy story, or fantasy saga genre, they’re not sexual fantasy. At its best, the fairy story or fantasy is far from being a flight from reality. It is rather a flight to reality. Let me say that again. At its best, the fairy story or fantasy is far from being a flight from reality. It is rather a flight to reality. any wonder that Jesus told parables, any wonder that Jesus talked about the kingdom to come, he wants to incite our imaginations, to dare to believe that there is good, beautiful, pleasant things ahead. The Promised Land is not just fiction. In the end, it’s not just in the past, it is a greater reality in the days to come. So Lord, I pray it right now. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is it haven’t. Would you inspire us, Lord, to take hold of with our imaginations, what is what is real? And the real that is coming through we might endure through the fiction that the princes, the principalities and powers of this age, have placed in front of us as though that’s all there is. God thank you for the gift of our imaginations, we consecrate them now to you. Help us to use them for for our good and for your glory, now and forever. In Jesus name, Amen.
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