Last Tuesday afternoon I stood on the porch at Epworth-by-the-sea as a heavy rain storm passed over St. Simon's Island. Along with several others I had been enjoying the rocking chairs during a break at Georgia Pastor's School when the darkened skies opened up and poured down in torrents. It was a real "frog strangler."
As we waited for the storm to pass, three year-old Sophia tried to convince her Dad, Rev. Chris Carlton, to let her step out into the downpour. After some resistance he finally agreed and she walked out into the rain. In an instant she was soaked to the skin as she ran around enjoying herself. Then she laid down in one of the streams caused by the torrential rains as the water raced from the parking lot down the street.
Unable to resist any longer, my grandchildren Felicia and Jamie joined Sophia. They enjoyed the coolness of the rain as they frolicked in the heavenly downpour. It wasn't long until the children were joined by my fun-loving wife and they romped around oblivious to the drenching they received.
I suspect that every one of the adults watching from the dry porch wanted to join in the fun (I know I did) but would not give into the urge. We stayed on the porch like "mature" grown ups.
In his sermon the next night Leonard Sweet reminded us that Jesus said, ""Let the children come to me, and don't try to stop them! God's Kingdom belongs to people like these" (Matthew 19:14). He said the problem with most of us is that we are "too adultish."
Pablo Picasso said, "Every child is born an artist, the problem is to remain one once they grow up." Children see things differently than adults. I wonder how much is missed when we cease to experience life with child-like awe and spontaneity. How much creativity and possibility is lost when we subject our imagination to rational thought processes?
Remez Sasson defines imagination as "the ability to form a mental image of something that is not perceived through the senses. It is the ability of the mind to build mental scenes, objects or events that do not exist, are not present or have happened in the past."
Sasson says further, "Imagination is a creative power that is necessary for inventing an instrument, designing a dress or a building, painting a picture or writing a book. The creative power of imagination has an important role in the achievement of success in any field. What we imagine with faith and feelings comes into being. It is the power beyond creative visualization, positive thinking and affirmations."
The writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible said, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus said if we have even a tiny kernel of faith we can do things that otherwise would be impossible (Matthew 17:19-21). Faith and imagination are not exactly the same but they do have many similarities.
I live most comfortably out of the left side of my brain so I am not suggesting that we stop using our analytical abilities. I certainly would not propose that we always act without thinking. I simply raise the possibility that we might be missing much of the richness of life if we don't allow the "child" in us to remain alive as we follow Jesus.
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," August 1, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]