I’ve got some model cars on my bookshelf. The paint’s scratched and they look a little worse for wear but they’re part of my history. As a child I spent many hours playing in the dirt, building roads, creating towns, and developing stories based around these models.
I had flash town cars to impress my imaginary friends; four wheel drives to hunt after adventure, trucks to carry loads, and sports cars just for fun.
Now they just sit on the bookshelf in my study as conversation pieces and perhaps as a reminder of a childhood where imagination played such an important part.
Imagination is a gift of God. It’s a gift that enables us to go beyond the humdrum of everyday life and explore the depths of our mind. Imagination can take us to another place where the world seems brighter, the grass is greener and colours are more colourful.
John Lennon invited us to imagine: Imagine there’s no countries, he said. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too. Imagine all the people. Living life in peace … INXS said use your imagination and start a fire.
I guess the imagination can be used for both good and evil.
In the Bible, the apostle Paul, writing from prison of all places said: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us; to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
As incredible as our imagination can be, according to Paul, God can achieve in us even more than we can imagine.
So when we have negative thoughts about ourselves, when we doubt our abilities, when we imagine that we’re no good, we may be well off the mark. Those negative thoughts can lead us towards depression and anxiety, and sometimes towards doing things that we regret later on.
Sitting in his prison cell, I am sure Paul made good use of his imagination. A tiny spot of blue sky through a tiny window high up in his cell would have sparked many thoughts of freedom. But his real hope came from within.
He recognised that God’s power was at work in him and that God’s thoughts were bigger than his.
His imaginations disappeared out of that tiny window high up in his cell and were swallowed up in God’s imaginations for him.
He recognised that God’s grace and love and mercy. That God’s protection of him, that even God’s estimation of him as a person was immeasurably more than he could even imagine.
Next time you have negative thoughts and you struggle to imagine yourself as a person who is worthwhile, I invite you to allow God’s heart to connect with your heart. No matter how you imagine yourself, God’s estimation of you is immeasurably greater.
It’s hard to imagine that God’s love was so great that he sent his son Jesus, so that “whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
He loves you deeply. Deeper than you can imagine.
This Sunday, June 1, I am commencing a series based on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, entitled “Life With Purpose … When Times are Tough”. You’re welcome to join us at Maida Vale Baptist Church, 24 Edney Road, High Wycombe each Sunday during June, starting at 9.30am