When we are children a question we are often asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A logical mind would say that a child has no way of knowing a good answer for him or herself. Lived experience and lack of assessment of abilities and skill sets are absent in childhood, but perhaps childhood is the exact right time to ask that question because the answer comes from the child’s imagination.
Imagination is the stuff of dreams and provides the rich soil for hope and possibility.
Such imagination and dreams have brought about some of the most amazing inventions in the world, the most moving music we have ever heard, and the most fascinating books we journey through.
Perhaps some are downcast and without hope because they gave up dreaming and possibility. And absent these, they lost hope and belief in what could happen. It can be easy to settle for the ordinary then, to become what others are like, and do what others do.
Imagination and dreams once ignored or buried are hard to resurrect again absent God’s divine intervention.
Enemies of imagination and dreams are easy to list, but harder to defeat. Practicality lurks around many a corner and doubt sneaks in behind it. Inaccurate assessment of ourselves fueled by things others say to us is also on the list.
When imagination, a dream, or a vision is embryonic, it doesn’t take much to keep it from growing. Like any living thing − put it in darkness and restrict its nourishment − death can happen without much effort. Our fall in the Garden leaves its remnants in the fabric of every living thing.
But there is one major enemy on the list to thwart imagination and dreams:
“You can’t stop dreaming, just because you’re afraid the dream won’t come true…dream’s biggest enemy is being afraid.”
Lisa Wingate in The Summer Kitchen
Fear is creative (yet predictable) in its pursuit of us − all humankind. It is one of the best tools because it seldom misses its mark (at least at the outset). You see it in action in story after story from Genesis onward in the Bible. Adam and Eve sinned and knew it so they hid from God. Goliath showed up on the battlefield and the Israelites trembled and Saul was cowered. Peter believed he could walk on water if the Lord called him and he started out fine until he looked down and fear caught up with him.
Fear has a fistful of lies: we’re too old, we’re too young, or we’re not smart enough. Add to that lies such as “it’s been tried and failed before,” “how can you make a living trying that sort of thing,” “people will laugh at you.”
If you hear those things, you’re in pretty good company. Noah must have heard them when he started building an ark on dry land. David heard them when he believed he could take down Goliath with a sling. Magellan heard them when he believed the earth was round instead of flat. Orrville and Wilbur Wright heard them when they built a machine in their bicycle shop they believed could fly. A lanky, self-educated, homely man named Abraham Lincoln heard them when he ran for President of the United States.
We have limits and boundaries, but when we get lost in them we think we are stuck there.
Helen Keller once said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”
Perhaps that is why movies born of imagination capture us time and time again. Books and music do as well. It’s little wonder we cheer for the smallest of creatures − the hobbits − in The Lord of the Rings, even though they don’t have the bow skill of Legolas Greenleaf or the ax skills of dwarves like Gimli.
You see, faith is fueled by believing the unseen, imagination, possibility, and dreaming of what can be. I think Jesus knew that when He called a little child to Him in Matthew 18:3 (TPT):
“Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.”
Do you have a dream? Do you imagine something you haven’t risked even saying out loud to anyone?
If so, then move toward it. Learn skills you need to attain it and keep moving unless the Lord halts you − the Lord…not fear. The Kingdom is waiting for the dream and imagination God placed in you to take shape. Look to Him. Silence the fear and doubt that come from the enemy.
“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.”
Henry Ward Beecher