I really love good pens. As time has gone by, I’ve found myself in love with one particular type – the Pentel RSVP BK90 fine-tip, blue-ink pen. It is perfect for writing in the margins of books because it doesn’t bleed through and it allows you to write smaller letters because of its fine point. That’s a double-whammy for an in-book underliner/note-taker (that last sentence was me seeing how many hyphens I could include).
On Friday, I lost one of those pens. I frantically searched, hoping against hope that maybe my pen had not been in my pocket, and maybe it had not fallen out on the bus. But it had. My frantic search and the fact that my mood was considerably dampened is not necessarily the weird part, though. The weird part is that the night I lost it, I dreamt that someone gave me one of those pens. And I woke up happy (until I realized it was just a dream, of course).
My imagination, that part of me that takes the building blocks of my experiences and plays with them, had latched onto my love for those Pentel pens and done something with it. My imagination was actively involving itself and interacting with my emotions and my experiences.
Perhaps it’s a little ridiculous that I get this worked up over pens. Okay, not perhaps; yes, yes it is. But it got me thinking about my claim to love God. I know I’m supposed to love God with all my being but when was the last time I let my imagination run and play with my experience of him? When was the last time I let my imagination explore the edges of the world the Bible has built for me, playing, enjoying, delighting, creating? When was the last time I considered that my imagination was part of my holistic sanctification?
I’m sure I’m not alone. Evangelicals are really good at the heart. We spend a lot of time talking about desires, about having Jesus become the object of our desires, about having our desires sanctified. We’re also getting better with the mind; we talk more about the importance of theology and understanding God. But in the midst of this, the imagination has gotten left out. Perhaps it’s because we think of Christianity as a serious endeavor and the imagination is just too playful. But God delights in play. One need only look at creation to realize that God’s imagination is awesome, and a lot of fun (case in point: OTTERS!).
The imagination isn’t just about making things up though. The imagination is the impulse and vehicle to creatively and playfully interact with what we experience in order to go beyond the immediate. One of the most interesting things about God to me is that while he revealed himself in Christ so perfectly, he also preserved so much mystery. Yes, we have boundaries within which to wander, as defined by Scripture and sacred tradition, but there’s so much room to play and enjoy and delight.
What does God’s love for me look like? What would it taste like? What would Jesus say to me if we shared a bowl of ice cream? Why didn’t God create unicorns? Perhaps those questions are too simple and fun for us dour-faced believers. I actually think they’re just right. The imagination does something that the heart and mind generally don’t – it makes faith fun.
This is why I’m going to start praying not just that God would purify my heart, and expand my mind, but that he’d lead my imagination, because the world he’s created for me needs a lot of exploring, don’t you agree?