If I Only Imagine

The Part Our Imaginations Play in Creating Our New Lives

If I Only Imagine | Dawn Mann Sanders | Christian Author and Motivational Speaker | Biblical Relationship Advice

Each January of our marriage, Reggie shared a thought with me that would become our family’s theme for the year. The idea of a personal theme was new to me. Oh, I experienced annual themes at church. Each January, Pastor Jenkins shares a theme for our church, but having a personal theme whether for myself or my family was a new idea.

And for me, that idea almost died with Reggie. That is until this past January when I sensed God giving me a one-word theme for my year. That word was “imagine.”

To imagine is to form a mental picture or idea of something not currently present to my senses. In other words, imagining is seeing something in my mind that I can’t see with my physical eyes.

God was challenging me to see the world—to see my life—differently than it currently is.

So, with that one word, God was challenging me to see the world—to see my life—differently than it currently is. God was challenging me to see myself the way He sees me, and thus, see my life the way He sees my life (1 Samuel 16:7).

But the Lord said to Samuel,

Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
~ 1 Samuel 16:7

Seeing My Life Differently

To be honest, I found God’s direction to spend the next season of my life imagining a different life for myself a little ironic. You see, most of my life, I used my imagination without prompting. For instance, I distinctly remember sitting in my junior high gym class with a classmate who asked me what were my plans following high school. Though as far as I knew at the time, no one in my family had done so, I confidently replied, “Oh, I’m going to college.”

Amazed, my friend responded, “You sound so sure.”

To which, I replied, “I am sure.” Because I was. I was confident even though I hadn’t discussed it with my parents yet or my guidance counselor. Very simply, I saw myself going to college.

My friend’s response surprised me though. He surprised me enough to go home and tell my father of my intentions. Later, at my college graduation dinner, my father shared this story with my family. Only he added that I shared my intentions with such confidence and conviction that he felt he had been put on notice.

Basically, that conversation told my father, in his words, “To get on the stick” because he needed to find the resources to send his baby girl to college. You see, that conversation prompted my father to see both of our lives differently.

Getting Back “On Course”

Imagining or forming a mental picture of yourself and your life gives you much-needed vision and direction. I say much-needed because, as any navigator will tell you, in order to chart a course, in order to get from here to there, you need two things. You need to know where here is and where there is. You need to know your starting point and your ending point.

As any navigator will tell you, in order to chart a course, you need two things: a starting point and an ending point. Share on X

Without an ending point, you can move, but you won’t be “on course.” Without an ending point, you can move, but you will be “adrift”. In other words, you will move, but not forward because to move forward, you need direction. You need a destination.

Without a destination, you aren’t moving towards anything. You will just be moving away from something.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s never been my thing. I prefer to run to something rather than run away from something. I have that philosophy because if I’m running away from something, how do I know if the next place will be any better? I don’t. If I don’t have a destination in mind, the next place could be worse—an out of the frying pan into fire situation.

Without a destination, you aren’t moving towards anything. You will just be moving away from something.

No, for me, running to something is always the best way to travel.

But where should I go? What should be the next stop on my journey? That’s where my imagination comes into play.

Doing a New Thing

Thankfully, I’d traveled enough with God that, like Moses (Exodus 33:14-16), I knew I wanted Him along for the ride. So, when I heard God direct me to begin imagining again this past January, I jumped at the chance.

As I look back on my journey to create a new life—one He loves and I enjoy, I realize that God’s invitation to imagine this past January wasn’t the first time. Last January wasn’t my first opportunity since Reggie’s passing that God invited me to see my life differently—to see me the way He sees me.

I failed to see some of my previous opportunities because I wasn’t ready yet. In the months, and yes, even years, following Reggie’s death, I was so hurt and angry that I couldn’t see more than a year ahead. I was still so focused on what I‘d lost that I couldn’t see what I had to gain. I was so busy looking back that I couldn’t see forward. I was stuck in the past and couldn’t see the future.

God was doing a new thing in my life and asking me if I would know it (Isaiah 43:19). And I didn’t, not fully, until this past January.

Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.
~ Isaiah 43:19

Experiencing a New Thing

Knowing something has two aspects—an intellectual aspect and an experiential aspect. The intellectual aspect of knowing is to grasp something mentally or to understand. It takes place in our minds.

Imagining yourself and your life the way God does gives you the mental understanding of what God wants to do with you and your life. Imagining is your knowing intellectually what God wants to do with, in and through you so well that you can see it in your mind. Imagining helps you gain a clear understanding. That’s knowing intellectually.

Knowing experientially is not just something that goes on in your mind, but knowledge you’ve gained through experience. Experiential knowledge is the kind of intimate understanding Isaiah was talking about when God asked: Will you know the new thing I’m doing?

Will we experience the thing God sees us doing in our own lives? Or will it just be a figment of our imaginations?

In this Scripture, God is asking if we’ll experience the new thing He’s doing. Will we experience the thing God sees us doing in our own lives? Or will it just be a figment of our imaginations?

So, when God challenged me to begin imagining again, it wasn’t just to give me pretty pictures and noble things to think about (Philippians 4:8). No, God directed me to imagine to give me and my life direction, to move me closer to Him. He did it as part of His invitation, not only to create my life, but to experience my life the way He designed it to be experienced. And He is inviting you too.

Yes, you, too, can experience life as God designed, if you can only imagine.

Questions:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being never and 10 being all the time, how often do you see yourself and your life as God does?
  • Are you more comfortable running to something or running away from something? Why?
  • For those who imagine your lives as God does, what steps have you taken/will you take to experience what you see?

I invite you to share your thoughts and feelings with me via social media on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedInTwitter, or Threads.

Until next time,

Dawn Mann Sanders

Cord of Blue divider | Dawn Mann Sanders | Christian Author and Motivational Speaker | Biblical Relationship Advice

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Reading the Bible | Dawn Mann Sanders | Christian Author and Motivational Speaker | Biblical Relationship Advice

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