Winter skies are heavy and seem to press down a dreary pessimism that is difficult to lift. The skies are gray, the birds are gray, and the ground is muddy. The biting air gnaws at our bodies, bringing aches and sickness to weary our souls. Some days it is difficult to believe that sun, warmth, or health will ever return.
Day in and day out we battle familiar dragons as the weight of bleak mid-winter crushes down. The endless routine of survival and necessities consumes. Spiritual myopia rages like a wildfire and our eyes become focused on things that are near and pressing rather than on Christ.
All that we see, feel, and hear confirms the hidden dread that this is all there is.
Like a trickle of water carving a vast canyon into rock, so the drudgery of the daily can wear holes in the holiest of hearts. Bit by bit our spiritual vision blurs and dims until all that is left is a tiny pinprick of light. Sensory input has overwhelmed spiritual reality.
What we need is a pair of corrective glasses that can make non-physical truths clear and sharp again.
Imagination offers us just the right prescription. It allows us to focus on that tiny pinprick of light, stick our fingers in, wiggle them around, and peel back the veil to peer beyond. And as we do, a wider hole is torn and light floods in.
Imagination helps us hope. It gives us strength to believe the incomprehensible promises of God. It whets are appetites for things unseen. It lifts our eyes to things that are above. It reminds us that there are armies with chariots of fire surrounding us (2 Ki 6:17).
Imagination opens the eyes of our hearts and prepares us for believing. It inclines our hearts and minds to things which we cannot see, hear, taste, touch or smell.
We need that preparation because the promises of God go far beyond what our senses can comprehend. “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20)
Without imagination, the tiny pinprick of light remains merely a pinprick of light. It is at best a passing distraction. And at worst? It becomes a tormenting whisper of the unattainable.
The door to beyond remains locked without the key of imagination.
Sometimes, we misplace that key to beyond and we need the help of a clearsighted person to help us find it. Often that person is a child.
My children helped me find my “key” just the other day and I hadn’t even realized it was lost.
It all began when my husband rambled off with the kids to see their new fort. It was made to replace the Lost One, which is lost somewhere on a hillside of gnarled trees and brambles.
Hours ticked by and the early dusk of December fell before I heard the merry voices of children in the mud room. My husband grinned at me from under his furry Aviator hat and announced, “I’ve just been to Neverland!”
“To Neverland?” I repeated.
He nodded. This was a poetic sentiment for my husband, who is a mathematician!
I was intrigued and the next day immediately accepted my children’s invitation to visit. My son, who is six, was the leader of the expedition and I followed him, bent at the waist, through child-paths in the thick woods.
When I finally stepped into the New Fort, I was astonished! Here, in the middle of briars and thick underbrush, the children had cleared a soft piece of ground under the encircling limbs of a shaggy cedar.
A patch of Eden reclaimed from the curse.
The five-year-old swept the ground smooth with her “rake.” The six-year-old hung a light switch, which he assured me worked. The vines twisted around his arms were for wiring the rest of the place. The three-year-old hung her hat on a peg in the kitchen and went straight to cooking.
I sat and watched. Silent. A witness and, in that role, a participator.
As I embraced Neverland, everything I had been busy with and burdened by seemed less pressing.
My vision was clearing.
I was poking my fingers through the pinprick and light was shining around the edges. As I wiggled my fingers around, the point of light widened, and I began to ponder the substance after which Neverland made me hunger.
That substance slowly came into focus, and suddenly the gray veil of winter was torn away. All my gloomy thoughts fled as a door was flung open and glorious light poured into my soul.
The substance is a beautiful, eternal land without tears or sorrow (Rev 21:4). A land where the Son always shines (Rev 21:23). A kingdom ruled by the Prince of Peace and upheld by righteousness and justice (Isaiah 9:6,7). There is a river there and it gives Life. And on the banks, on both side of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees. And their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:12)
Imagination, the key to beyond, had unlocked the door.