As I write this, we have a frigid temperature of 9 degrees outside and about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Being outdoors is not a good option or very appealing and this morning I have been imagining another place that is a favorite of ours.
When my husband and I were still working one of the things we most needed on vacation was a place that refreshed and nourished us after spending many hours each week as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors. We needed something that quieted our hearts and minds and stirred our imaginations again.
One of several places became favorites for us and we were blessed to visit it multiple times – the Lake Louise area of Alberta, Canada. We learned about the area when our daughter and her husband spent their honeymoon there. We had traveled in the continental United States to many different spots but one of our favorites had been the Rocky Mountains. The vistas and grandeur never failed to inspire us and fill us with awe for the One who spoke them into existence. So, we chose to venture a bit farther north after learning about the area that had been their honeymoon spot. What we discovered stirred us to return many times and today my memory was stirred to imagining another trip there.
We explored more than a few trails and stunning spots while there, but our server at the restaurant of the hotel where we were staying gave us a tip about an out-of-the-way lake that was more off the beaten path of vacationers. One day at breakfast he gave us a map of how to get there and explained it would be about an hour or so hike from the parking area. His offer to have the chef pack a lunch made the trek even more appealing and I still recall that first time we made the trek to Boom Lake together.
Along the path we discovered there were sights near our feet as well as above and around us. Despite the rocky terrain wildflowers were tucked in here and there adding spots of color – God’s little surprises in the midst of granite.
Sharing stories and things about books were reading on the vacation kept us company on the hike back to Boom Lake, but we were likely to take much more than an hour so as not to miss the beauty that surrounded us and nestled near our feet. These delights have been the substance of memories and imagination long after we visited them.
What fuels your imagination?
There can be many sources and our choice of what we take in will tend to keep us in darkness or nudge us back into the light. The choice will fuel our fear and anxiety or nourish our faith and hope.
“Much of life is spent in darkness, whether literal or metaphorical. No one seems completely at home in the dark, even though most of us learn to accustom ourselves to it. We invent devices to make the dark less threatening – a candle, a fire, a flashlight, a lamp. In the darkness we are liable to lose perspective and proportion: nightmares terrorize us, fears paralyze us. In the darkness our imaginations fashion specters. Sounds are ominous. Movements are ghostly. A light that shines in the darkness shows us that the terror and the chaos have no objective reality to them.”
“Light reveals order and beauty. Or, if there is something to be feared, the light shows the evil in proportionate relationship to all that is not to be feared.”Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder
It can be easy to start to focus on the darkness. It can invade us from many sources including what we watch, read, and hear throughout the day that can then echo in our dreams and be fodder for nightmares. Sometimes it can be hard to choose a better source of imagination, but it is key to finding peace, fueling hope, and being light for others and that is what the Lord calls us to be and do in this life. HE is light and He has crafted us to be light bearers in an ever-darkening world.
God gave us the gift of imagination and I think it surely must be one of the ways we are created in his image as I consider treks through the mountains, along a beach, or a quiet country road. Those things, the things He created, adjust my focus and shape a better vision.
God delights to do that for us if we look for it. Consider what He gave his beloved disciple, John:
“St. John is on the prison island in isolated exile. He is cut off from his churches by a decree out of the unholy Rome. Rome is the ascendant power. The gospel has been proved a weak and ineffective sally against unstoppable evil. Two generations after the euphoria of Pentecost it is thoroughly discredited. Everything St. John has believed and preached is, to all evidence, a disaster.”
“And then, without a single thing having happened in Rome or in Asia – no earthquake to change the face of the earth, no revolution to change the government in Rome – St. John is on his feet. He has a message. He has a job. He has a means of bringing God home to the people and the gospel to the world. The difference between St. John the prisoner and St. John the pastor is Christ, in vision and in reality.”Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder
In the midst of what seemed like deep darkness with Rome winning at every turn, God gave John (St. John) the vision and fulfillment of his plans and purposes in what we have as The Revelation to John.
There is no darkness that can stop God and his purposes from being fulfilled though our focus and imagination can cause us to question that.
Look around you.
Discover Him again or discover Him for the first time.