Using Your Imagination—Part 1

Welcome to my blog! Or to those of you who have read me in the past, welcome back! If you note the date of my last post you will see it was four months ago, almost to the day. Back in October, due to an automatic WordPress update, my website theme stopped working. So I ended up changing out my old theme (long story), and here you see the results, thanks to the talent of my long-time web designer Becky. I would LOVE to hear your comments about the new design, which is much like the old theme but with some enhancements that I really like. Please give me your feedback.

Throughout the weeks of my unintended blackout I have been working through some devotional material called the “Spiritual Exercises,” written about 500 years ago by a Spanish monk named Ignatius of Loyola. Contemplating restarting my blog (the “grand opening” of my new theme, if you will), I thought I would touch on an “exercise” that Ignatius included repeatedly in his instructions, an approach to meditation on Scripture that has led to the most profound prayer experiences I have ever had.

It’s very simple really. It takes advantage of something all of us do each and every day without much conscious thought. The only difference is, Ignatius asked his initial students—and he asks us—to make a CONSCIOUS decision to put this very common practice to use as we read and think about Scripture. That is, the use of our imaginations.

Let me give you an example…an exercise if you will. A few weeks ago I was asked in the Exercises to meditate on Luke 2:41-52, the story of Mary and Joseph bringing their 12-year-old son Jesus to Jerusalem in celebration of the Passover. You know the story, in fact that’s part of the problem. You know it so well that when you come across it in your regular devotional time, you skim over it. There are no more “facts” to be gleaned from the story.

While it may be true that you know all the facts of this story, there is soo much more to be found there, namely a deeper connection to Jesus. Would you be interested in connecting more deeply with Him? If you’re like me, the answer is yes. Ignatius contended that we can do that by using our imagination…by asking ourselves questions and letting our hearts, guided by the Holy Spirit, search for answers. You probably won’t find many of those (Ignatius did not espouse rewriting Scripture), but you might be surprised at what surfaces in the process. Try these questions on:

• Jesus was 12. How much did he understand of his earthly mission at this stage in his life?
• What might Jesus have been thinking during the caravan trip south to Jerusalem? He’d made this journey with his parents every year of his life…did this trip feel any different?
• Was Jesus a fun-loving child? Full of boy-antics along the dusty road they traveled? Did he hate getting pebbles in his sandals? Did he have trouble sleeping at night on the open road? What did he think about in those dark quiet hours?
• What did Jesus pray about during the journey? Did he address God as…God? Or did he address the Almighty as “Father,” even though he had a father in Joseph?
• Jesus knew the day and hour his family would be leaving for home. What was he thinking?
• Try to imagine what the conversation was like between Jesus and the religious leaders. Be a fly on the wall.
• Three days pass. What does Jesus eat? Where does he sleep? Does someone take him in, or like Anna the prophetess, does he sleep in a corner of the temple? Does he know he’s in big trouble once Mom and Pop show up? Does he care?
• What does Jesus mean when he is finally confronted with a very concerned mother and possibly angry father, yet replies to them: “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (NKJV)

These are my questions. You may have more of your own. If you spend some quality time with these questions—rereading the Scriptures, thinking about them, and then praying in response to them—you’ll be surprised at what will come of this exercise. A new richness to be found that you didn’t know was possible, and in a lovely, not so easy to explain way, you will feel closer to Jesus. Then, what will happen next will truly surprise you. Because the final question will come unbidden to your heart, a question directed to you from your heavenly Father:

What will you do, to be about My business?