We all dream. It’s natural. God gave us imaginations and the desire to use them. Without dreams we would stagnate and eventually die. It is our imaginations that allow us to look to the future and plan. The longings of our heart spoken of in Proverbs are possible because of our imagination.
Imagination gives us hope. We live in an imagined world all the time, it’s just that we don’t see it that way. When we give directions, or if someone tells us to describe an elephant, we see in our mind’s eye the thing we are describing. That requires our imagination.
Without imagination Donald Trump would never have built Trump Tower in New York, Bill Gates would never have developed the Microsoft organisation, Mozart would never have composed his Great Mass, the Wright Brothers would never have left the ground, and Jesus would not have gone to the Cross.
That’s right, Jesus used His imagination in Gethsemane. He used it to see the joy set before Him. He imagined the resurrection – saw it’s conclusion and what it would achieve – and it gave Him the human strength to go on through the crucifixion. He encouraged the disciples to use their imaginations the very night He was betrayed. He encouraged them to think about what was to come in His Father’s House. We cannot be troubled when we focus on eternity, and that really requires an Eternal perspective – which we cannot have without our imaginations!
Dreaming of the future is something we all do. It is these imaginings that allow us to develop our lives. A God-centric imagination will result in us moving (more-or-less!) in His direction, where focussing on ourselves or the world will draw us away from Him.
In the 1990’s I went to a lot of Bible conferences in the UK. There I saw some amazing works of God, from salvation to healing to financial provision. I watched in awe as one of the leaders at one conference prayed for a young boy who had one leg over an inch shorter than the other, and at the prayer the short leg grew to match the length of the other. It sparked my imagination, and I began to pray more for healing, finance and so on. For a while I saw it too. Nothing as dramatic as the young boy’s leg, but small healings, finances provided where it was seemingly impossible, hardened atheists joining churches with tears. Then my circumstances changed and I gradually went to fewer conferences and although I still had the memories the imagination I had was not fuelled in the same way and what I began to see was less spectacular than back then.
My imagination had become less potent because I did not feed it in God’s way. I studied for 8 years towards a commerce degree which required me to watch the news reports and read the newspapers where I had previously been able to spend that time in more spiritual study, and as a result my thinking became more worldly and I began to expect the world’s results – and that’s what I started to get. Now I am more concentrated on my Spirit again, although not as much as when I was younger, and the answers I see are more expectant of God showing up and seeing results.
When Peter prayed for the cripple at the Temple he must have imagined him walking. Paul imagined planting a Church in every city he set foot in, and those places he went almost all had a Church when he left.
We must be wary of what we imagine. Books like “The Secret” will make seemingly incredible promises based on using this same concept, and the world will indeed provide some very convincing counterfeits for God’s dreams for our lives. I’m not talking about any “law of attraction” or such nonsense. These would be the very things we are told by Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
What we listen to will affect our imaginations. We inevitably burn less brightly when we are set away from the rest of the coals. But we were made to dream, and to dream BIG. But we must go to the one who dreams a dream for us. God has a dream for us. He places it in us whilst we are still being formed and gives us every chance He can to live it. But dreams are risky things to follow. They can cost us everything safe and secure, and most people never leave home in pursuit of our dreams, we rather sit in our comfortable chairs and read articles, blogs or watch tv shows about people living out their “dreams”.
Maybe your dream is to sing, or act. If it is God’s dream for you then ask Him to make a way for you to do it. Maybe your dream is to be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher. Whatever God’s dream is for you, seek it with all your heart. Don’t let the world draw you away with shiny baubles that will rob you of the real treasure you will find when you live your real Big Dream.
For further reading on the concept of dreams in a Christian perspective, I recommend Bruce Wilkinson’s excellent book “The Dream Giver” ISBN: 978-1-59052-201-1