Use Your Imagination
I've had a number of occasions over the past couple of months when I've turned my thoughts toward God and what God is up to in the world, and found myself without much to go on.
To speak bluntly, I have had a number of gut check moments lately over the things I usually tell people when there are hard times afoot. It's kind of sobering how a global pandemic can turn my go-to words of advice and encouragement into shallow platitudes.
Still, I keep speaking of God, and doing the best I can to see where God is at work in all of this, despite how hard it is to see at times.
The other day, I was struggling a bit more than usual. The mystery of it all eluded me. It was almost as though I kept getting these glimpses of the downside of eternity--when forever goes on and on without any real expectation of things being better.
I found myself wondering, "What is the point to all of this? Why keep doing something that seems to be falling completely under the law of diminishing returns?"
As I was letting those thoughts have free rein in my head, I read this amazing little parable by Anthony de Mello, and it sparked something for me. Here it is:
The disciples were full of questions
Said the master, "God is the Unknown
and the Unknowable. Every statement
about him, every answer to your questions,
is a distortion of the truth."
The disciples were bewildered. "Then
why do you speak about him at all?"
"Why does the bird sing?" said the
I don't know why exactly, but this little parable meant so much to me in the moment. The reason why we speak of God... the reason why we try to keep seeing God at work around us... the reason why we want so desperately to experience God's presence...
Is because it is within us to do so.
The truest expression of this is to first realize that God is beyond our imagination, and then to keep imagining God anyway. The fact that the words we use to give voice to what we imagine about God always fall short of God's glory is a liberating thing. It should in no way cause us to despair.
What I know about God isn't nearly as important as what I experience of God, and the experience of the Divine always requires the kind of freedom that is inherent in our imagination.
Albert Einstein once said:
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world.Come on! How good is that? This particular situation that we find ourselves in has afforded us a gift---the gift of imagination. All of the old paradigms have fallen away and a new world is being born, and in that new world our imagination, our ability to embrace mystery... that's what will see us through.
Theology won't save us, especially in the new world being born. Only Christ can do that. And through Christ, God is reconciling all of Creation to Godself in ways that we heretofore were never able to comprehend.
Theology... doctrine... dogma... tradition... even the hard and fast rules that many Christians have used when they interpret the Bible... all of those things need to be rethought, reimagined.
God is doing something new both within us and outside of us. We don't have to be afraid---all we need do is keep stumbling after Jesus as we are led away from what was into what is becoming.
I read this passage from Isaiah today, and it spoke to me as I was thinking through all of this:
I am ready to be approached by those who do not study me, ready to be found by those who do not seek me. I say, "I am here, I am here" to people who do not even invoke my name. - Isaiah 65:1May you discover new things about God today that draw you ever closer to God and God's purposes. May you find a holy imagination that helps you to think about God in new and more expansive ways. May you be filled with excitement and hope--enough to carry you through this challenge and beyond.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.