Screens hypnotize my eyes morning, noon, and night. By the end of the day, all the news and notifications have zapped my brain. I feel too drained to think about anything else. My imagination retires itself to bed earlier, and I am left again to consume more mindless media.
Research studies indicate that time on screens impacts creative thinking. Though technology is helpful in learning, spreading ideas, and forming connections, it has greatly limited our ability to wonder. I long to utilize my imagination as I did before the impact of media. But, I realize that its redemption and true purpose is only found in Jesus Christ.
Imagination is the act of forming mental images, narratives, or phenomena. It is the capacity to perceive sensory experiences without experiencing them in reality. Through imagination, we can recall past events and create possibilities for future ones. We can consider the world differently, picture things better than they are, and elevate the mundane.
Imagination is not simply child's play, but it is a way to awaken to God. As creatures who bear His image, we worship God when we use our imagination to gaze at His majesty. We reflect His creative power when we envision how the gospel can transform brokenness. Finally, in our imagination, we cling to the sight of the cross and cast our minds on our eternal inheritance. But, because we are sinners, our imaginations are fallen. We tend to imagine the wrong things. Our rebellious hearts create mental images, narratives, and phenomena that are full of lies, lust, and pride. Fortunately, for those of us who trust in Jesus, God does not leave our imaginations to ruin. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us who helps us use imagination as intended. And by using our imagination as intended, we can participate in the work of the Spirit. By incorporating creative habits that give us rest from screens and media consumption, we can wonder at God. Below are three tips to awaken our imaginations to God's glory.
- Read Christian Poetry
Reading Christian poetry provides illumination for the soul. Poetry strings together words creatively and helps us reflect on a concept in a surprising way. It utilizes figurative language to build mental pictures so that deeper truths, which are normally glossed over, may be understood. Christian poetry does this with theological truths. Let's look at a poem I wrote below:
Sin has my heart bound with large metal chains
Pulling my desires toward rebellion
A cruel taskmaster, sin is not ashamed
When it strikes the word of God, transgression
Captive, I am forced to work to no end
Building structures for man's pride and glory
Serving leeches who claim gods; they pretend
Leaving me weak, malnourished in body
My cries call for the deliverer sent
To break the shackles of sin and evil
To restore life and a future content
This One, Jesus, will rescue His people
- Kyra Daniels, Journey to Freedom study
In this poem, I paint sin as an oppressor. We may not think of sin in this way, but the poem quickens our imagination to see sin in the light that Scripture portrays. With seriousness, the poem highlights that we are vulnerable to fall into our sinful nature without our Savior's intervention. Reading the work of Christian poets every week will help you see the fallenness of human nature and the power of the Lord. Also, if you are interested, consider writing your own poem. In these moments, the Holy Spirit will strengthen your mind to search for words like treasure. In your effort to describe biblical truth creatively, you will gain the rich knowledge of God.
- Listen to Worship Music
Music not only forms mental pictures but also affects emotion and mood. When we listen to music, we not only replay past events or imagine new ones, but we also experience the feeling of living through them. For example, we might identify songs that make us remember the thrill of high school days. Or, maybe we can think of a song that gets us eager for the holiday season to come. Most of all, music causes us to reflect on our emotional experience in relationship with God.
Through the Lord's grace, many different songs can lead us to this intimate communion with Him. But, worship music centers our imagination on eternal things. Listening to worship music daily can help us remember our place in the Father's presence. It brings ease and comfort while we are in the midst of life's hardships. For instance, in the hymn, "In Christ Alone," we sing "No power of hell, no scheme of man/ Can ever pluck me from His hand/ Till He returns or calls me home/ Here in the power of Christ I'll stand." At these lyrics, we dwell on the radiant image of our eternal home in Christ and are overwhelmed with expectant joy.
- Meditate on Apocalyptic Literature in Scripture
Another way to incorporate creative habits in our faith journey is to meditate on the apocalyptic literature in Scripture. Apocalyptic literature is a genre in the Bible that points to the end times. These passages are helpful in evoking imagination because they depict the Spirit of God in His majesty. These parts of Scripture can sometimes be confusing to read, and we might find ourselves getting lost in the prophecy. However, using spectacular images, the biblical authors ultimately wanted to draw our attention to the Lord on His throne. Meditating on visions of God's presence in Daniel and Revelation moves our mind's eye to gaze on the invisible. We can start by regularly digging into passages like Revelation 4 and Daniel 7:9-10. Through studying these passages, the Holy Spirit will lift us out of the mundane and bring our minds to the base of Jesus's heavenly throne. There, we will view Christ in His supremacy, watch the angels bow at His splendor, and tremble with awe.
God has given us imagination for a reason, so let us dedicate it back to Him. Our creative ability is a tool for worship. Let your mind rest from the world's images and gaze at the all-satisfying image of Jesus.