“Your imagination of God is starved.” Oswald Chambers
In his iconic little devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers lays out one of the many challenges facing Christians who would seek to know God. It is our own idols we put in front of ourselves for the very purpose of knowing God.
In the days of the biblical prophets, this problem was with physical idols, sculptures formed into the human idea of what God looks like. For me that idolatry branches out to include my ministry within the church, inspirational books, and video bible studies (some of which never even reference the Bible.)
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with all these. They are all very good things, but when I hyper-focus on anything other than God himself, it has become my idol. And as Chambers says, my imagination of God has been starved.
I’m finally finishing up Mark 8. It only took me a week! The last few paragraphs tell about Peter getting frustrated with Jesus. Peter, I think, felt that Jesus was getting a little to morbid in his description of his purpose on Earth. Jesus turned the tables and pretty much told Peter off (probably not the first time and definitely not the last).
(*Let me just chase a rabbit for a sentence or two. It is scenarios like this that make me question the validity of one of our “Christiany” platitudes. “God is not mad at you.” I don’t know… it just doesn’t seem to fit with the passionate, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful God that I read about in the Bible. Anyway… )
The point I’ve been pondering here is brought into focus with what Jesus says to Peter. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Like me, Peter had lost his imagination for the huge plans of God. He couldn’t see past what others might think of Jesus’ crazy talk.
That is totally me, the hypocrite. Worried so much about the way things look, I don’t have room to imagine who God truly is and the things he has planned for our lives. I feel it’s a pretty big ask. He is infinite. And my mind is so limited.
What I’ve decided to do, at least for a little while, is limit the incoming messages about God and the things of God. Let’s call it spiritual decluttering. For now, I am going to try to read the Bible every single day. I will try to look and listen for God’s voice and presence in the his creation, in the everyday. The only other source I will occasionally look to will be the Oswald Chambers devotional that I talked about earlier. The deeper thinking that this devotional stirs seems to help instead of hinder my imagination for the things of God.
That’s what I’m longing for… To have in mind the things of God instead of the things of this world. I’m sure it will be a slow journey, but I guess I have to start somewhere.