Loving God with the Imagination

Imagination has been to my soul-growth what a nose is to a feast.

Without it, the food still lies in sumptuous spread, but with it, the flavors of the meal are clearer, the enjoyment of them fuller, and the aromas from the next course tantalizingly sumptuous.

I owe so much to the help of good storytellers who have taken the Word of God and brought out notes that I would have been a long time in tasting on my own.

To show you what I mean:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

– John 11:33-36

Sometimes certain passages in the Bible dull to familiarity for me. “Jesus wept,” you might say, and I respond, “Ah yes! The shortest verse in the Bible,” instead of reflecting on the arresting compassion — the splagchnizomai — and the sorrow behind those words.

But later, I take a storybook from the shelf.

And there, on the golden gravel of the bed of the stream, lay King Caspian, dead, with the water flowing over him like liquid glass. His long white beard swayed in it like water-weed. And all three stood and wept. Even the Lion wept: great Lion-tears, each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond.

– The Silver Chair

Here, in the span of one paragraph, I begin to consider something I hadn’t before: the momentousness of the Son of God weeping.

It isn’t that Scripture needs an appendix. It lives and breathes on its own, and is fully sufficient in its revelation of God. But by the mercy of a Creator who has gifted us with the capacity to create, in story I see more vividly how words like “stand firm” might play out in this life.

The sweet air grew suddenly sweeter. A brightness flashed behind them. All turned. Tirian turned last because he was afraid. There stood his heart’s desire, huge and real, the golden Lion, Aslan himself, and already the others were kneeling in a circle round his forepaws and burying their hands and faces in his mane as he stooped his great head to touch them with his tongue. Then he fixed his eyes upon Tirian, and Tirian came near, trembling, and flung himself at the Lion’s feet, and the Lion kissed him and said, “Well done, last of the Kings of Narnia who stood firm at the darkest hour.”

– The Last Battle

If you’ve read The Last Battle, you know how long that meeting is in coming. It is hard to stand firm when the journey grows long and hope dwindles. In the wake of Aslan’s words, I find I have a larger store of courage, and a stronger determination to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when my chapter closes.

Sometimes I’m tempted to stay in stories, especially those that make truth more vivid (as the best ones do). I’ll have a list of some that I’ve loved up this weekend, and the list is always growing, so do let me know if there are any fictional tales that have strengthened your faith?

For now, I’ll end with a favorite excerpt about truth in story and stories about truth:

“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Before we go, will you tell us when we can come back to Narnia again? Please. And oh, do, do, do make it soon.”

“Dearest,” said Aslan very gently, “you and your brother will never come back to Narnia.”

“Oh, Aslan!” said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.

“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”

“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.

“Are–are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

– The Dawn Treader


This post is part of a 31 day series about Loving God as an Introvert

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