It’s started already. June hadn’t even clicked over on the calendar yet and I began to hear the familiar refrain, “Mom, I’m bored…”
As if I would do something about that.
You see – I think it’s good to feel bored once in a while. Well, let me rephrase that – I think it’s good to go through the process of becoming “un-bored”. It takes imagination. It takes thought. It takes the self-discipline of pushing oneself beyond the pacifying allure of laziness.
My typical response is to answer, “Let me know when you come up with something wonderful!” I’m not really sure why one child in particular continues to tell me that he’s bored. I always give him the same answer – maybe he just wants the conversation.
Imagination is taking a lethal hit in this generation. We rarely give kids the time to think great thoughts and let their imaginations soar, and I think it’s a tragic loss. You see, imagination is such a huge part of the Christian life, that I can’t – imagine – living without it.
Indulge me for a moment – and read Ephesians 3:20-21:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Some versions translate the word “imagine” as “think” – either way, our minds are fully engaged in grand thoughts.
Why would God include the imagination part of that? It would be wonderful enough to know that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask of Him, wouldn’t it?
But it’s there, and I believe it’s there for a reason.
You see, we actually have bigger thoughts of God when we engage our imaginations. It’s one thing to think of God as “great”, but it’s another thing altogether to imagine what “great” might really mean.
Have you ever day-dreamed about the grandeur of heaven? Seeing Jesus? The men and women of the Bible? Streets of gold? Trees that bear 12 kinds of fruit? Living in harmony with everyone around you? Have you ever spent time mentally picturing the agony of the cross? The flogging? The mocking? The searing pain? The agony of rejection? Have you ever imagined what Creation might have looked like? Oceans raging into place? Mountains rising up from the deep? Plants erupting into being? Have you ever helped your children really think about the 10 plagues in Egypt? Frogs in their beds and flies all over their food and in their eyes and ears and going into their mouths? You get the picture – imagination makes a huge difference in whether or not you are in awe of God.
Think of all the good things a healthy imagination can do:
It lets you put yourself in another place and time – past, present, or future.
It helps you to put yourself in another person’s circumstances.
It helps you to picture in 3-D the words on a page.
It helps you think through the question, “What if…?”
It helps you to see potential where it’s not immediately apparent.
It develops your ability to think for long periods of time.
It can help warn you.
It can help encourage you.
It can give depth to your hopes.
You can visualize, plan, dream, hope, be encouraged, be motivated, be prepared. You can think amazingly wonderful, glorious, lofty, grand thoughts about God and all that He has done and is doing in your life and in the world.
The better your imagination is the more glorious God becomes to you and the more wonderfully delighted you are in Him. The bigger your thoughts are of God the greater He becomes to you. When you use your imagination to help increase your understanding of God, you cannot help but love and glorify Him more and more! Think about how you felt the first time you saw the ocean – or the Grand Canyon – or went out to a place far from the city lights and saw the blanket of black velvet sky punctuated by not millions or billions but an incomprehensible number of stars! Now read the Ephesians 3 passage again –“ to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…”
As wonderful as your imagination can possibly think that God is – He’s even greater! You cannot exhaust His greatness or glory! And your kids are just beginning the journey of understanding for themselves who this majestic, magnificent God is – why would we want to let the TV or internet or Gameboy or Nintendo or …anything get in the way of that?
So, the next time your kids (or you!) are tempted to turn to some cheap form of entertainment to chase away the uncomfortable feeling of boredom, pause for a moment and encourage them to take the opportunity to engage their imaginations instead. Hammering away at a tree fort or riding bikes or taking a walk or drawing or… just sitting on the front steps thinking are all wonderful fields of fertile soil for letting one’s imagination begin to grow. Don’t interfere with it – instead, encourage it and ask them to let you know when they come up with something wonderful!