I keep little notes on my desk, which I have copied down, thinking they would be the making of a good blog for men. Here is a quote I got from some place that I keep coming back to in my pondering about the lives of men who read my blogs. “We suffer more from our imagination than from reality.” We read in Isaiah 65:2, “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations…”
Our imagination is a wonderful gift from God. But if our inner gaze is not on the Lord and our minds are not “washed” in the cleansing power of God’s Word, our imagination can cause great harm to our souls. Ezekiel prophesied concerning this washing. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh ( Ezk. 36:25-26). I don’t know about you, but I can imagine myself into some pretty deep holes of fear, worry and anxiety fairly quickly, especially when I think about an uncertain future that I have no control over. My imagination can run wild at times.
What do I do? There are at least two vital practices that get me settled down and experiencing the peace that passing all my understanding. First, I turn my heart’s gaze away from myself and my circumstances unto the Lord, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Ps 27:8). With the awareness that Jesus is within me, I direct my imagination, that is, my gaze on him. I am not navel gazing, but being aware of God’s presence. This I do in faith, knowing this is absolute reality. God is at the center. Sometimes it bad enough, that I cry out like the blind man, who wanted so desperately to be with Jesus. “Jesus, have mercy on me.” I need help to “center” myself in the Lord.
The second thing I need to do, is allow my mind to feed on God’s word. Jesus tells us, “The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit word, and so it is life-making” (The Message John 6:63). Men, our imaginations need to have life infused into them, so that we can visualize the truth and action of God in our lives. This is what Paul had to say about what we should do with our minds. “I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and, meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (The Message – Phil 4:8).