A healthy imagination sparks excitement, a zest for life, and a way to see beyond what is to what can be. Reflect on these words and ideas from young people on the topic of Imagination, first published in devozine.
1. Develop a can-do attitude, one that finds a way to succeed. Don’t focus on why something can’t be done; hone in on how it can be done.
2. Power down the technology for a little while and see what happens. Technology is a wonderful tool for creative work, but it can also be a crutch. Try kicking it old school every so often. Remember: Walt Disney never used a cell phone, and he did great in the imagination department.
3. Read a book. Go places you’ve never been; meet people you’ve never met. Interact with good books, and watch the creative sparks start to fly.
4. Play. Step away from the homework, and play a game of ping-pong. Better yet, go outside and invent your own game. As Inventor-in-Chief, you get to make all the rules.
5. Solve your problems without money. Having limited resources forces you to use your imagination and is sure to bring out the genius in you. Remember: Necessity is the mother of invention.
—Von Mitchell [Cedaredge, Colorado]
Imagine the world as a place free of struggles, free of bullies, free of decisions that can make or break your life. Would life be easier without struggles? Of course! But we don’t live a utopian life. And yet, God is with us through the struggles and the choices we make. God knows our pain, our shame, our regrets, and wants us to turn to God in difficult times. Imagine how much better life is with the Creator at your side.
Now imagine how different your world would be if one thing were to change. Depending on the change, maybe your world wouldn’t be radically different; or maybe it would. God gave us imagination for a purpose. The next time friends tell you about a problem that affects them or their family, put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself: How would I feel and what would I want someone to do or say if I failed an exam or if I lost a loved one? Use your imagination to make a difference in someone else’s life.
—Michelle Ankrum [Marshalltown, Iowa]
The post-election violence I witnessed in Kenya a few years ago left me in such despair that I could no longer visualize the goodness of the Lord. I was almost convinced that God did not care, that the heartless ones could have their way.
Turning to scripture for comfort, I discovered the gift of sacred imagination that allowed me to look beyond despair. I realized that God is loving and continues to work for our good, even in the worst of times. Through the power of God’s word and some newly-created music aimed at reconciliation rather than revenge, those of us directly affected by the events in Kenya were able to come together, to seek and to offer forgiveness. We could begin to see once again the love and mercy of God at work in our lives and in our communities.
Imagination, springing from hearts transformed by the word of God, sees beauty in the midst of trouble. Faith is an act of imagination that encourages kindness, brings about healing, and ensures peace.
—Helmut Wagabi [Mombasa, Kenya]
God does abundant good through our suffering. God uses our joyful moments, sure; but God specializes in bringing beauty from ashes. God is the master of blessings in disguise. When you’re faced with a devastating situation and wonder if God still cares, practice imagining God’s plans. Trust that they are better than yours. With a little imagination, you can learn to rest in the goodness of God, no matter what is happening.
—Kate Underwood [Dekalb, Illinois]
Imagination. Why do we have it? Why did God give us the ability to think, hope, and dream? Why does God allow us to share in God’s creativity? The reason is written in the Word itself. God gave us creativity so that we could create. God gave us creativity so that we could dream of a better tomorrow, of progress, of what the world could be if we used the gift of imagination. Imagination has taken us from wooden carts pulled by horses to cars that move by pushing one foot down on a little pedal. Imagination has brought us from writing letters with a quill and ink to cell phones that allow us to speak to others instantly, no matter where they are. Our imagination allows the world to progress. Imagination designed and built the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and all the other amazing structures in our world. Genesis 1:1 (NIV) says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The very first verse of scripture talks about the use of imagination: “God created...” If God hadn’t used imagination “in the beginning,” we wouldn’t be here.
One of my favorite movies is Disney’s Peter Pan. I have always been captivated by the idea of never growing up, of all my hopes and dreams coming true, of never losing my imagination. Many people associate growing up with the loss of dreams, aspirations, and imagination. But maybe growing up means being able to act on our dreams and to bring them to life. If the youth of the world decided to keep our imagination strong as we grow up, where would the world be in ten years? I’m not talking about flying cars or jetpacks. What if we all used our imagination to create a world at peace?
Many people don’t realize how important imagination and creativity are. These gifts can be used for so much more than daydreaming during a boring class at school or doodling in the margins of a notebook. Imagination is what gives us hope when we’re going through the hardest times; creativity allows us to express ourselves in ways that words can’t—through music, painting, or dance. Imagination allows us to see the beauty of a sunset, the ocean, or another person.
Without imagination, we would be boring. We would be narrow-minded people who do exactly the same thing over and over again, day after day, because we wouldn’t be able to create another way to spend our time. God didn’t give us the ability to hope, dream, create, and imagine on a whim. God gave us these gifts so that we could be more like God. After all, God created us in God’s image. Genesis 1:27 (NRSV) says, “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” God created us to be like God, and part of creation was receiving God’s gift of imagination.
—Sarah Arbuckle [Round Rock, Texas]
From “Imagination.” Published in devozine, January/February 2016, Vol. 21, No. 1. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room.