I am your favorite show’s worst critic. The phrase “That’s not even possible!” rolls off my tongue regularly as I scrutinize the details of characters and scenes. I know I’m mistakenly projecting the limitations of real life onto an imaginary scenario, but sometimes I just can’t help myself!
If you had spent the entirety of your developmental years locked in a tower with the mentally unstable woman who kidnapped you, there’s no way you’d be as socially adjusted as Rapunzel was in Disney’s “Tangled”. Also, your hundred-foot-long hair would not float perfectly behind you without getting *tangled*, and you wouldn’t have known the lights appeared every year on your birthday because there’s no way your kidnapper would have told you the real date of your birthday!
I can’t watch shows like MacGyver (the new version) without wondering why 99 out of 100 bullets shot at the main characters don’t hit them, but 9 out of 10 of their shots are dead on. And when you’re not even MacGyver and you’re locked in the trunk of a moving car speeding toward your demise and there just happens to be a container of random spare parts and you just happen to know how to turn them into a working cell phone? That would never happen!
And as I’ve watched football over the past few weeks, I’ve said out loud, “Who are these imposters? This pass-completing, 3rd-down-converting, red-zone-succeeding team can’t possibly be the Philadelphia Eagles!?” 😉
My fellow television viewers may be annoyed with my lack of imagination, but what can I say? I’m a realist!
In John 6:5, Jesus asked His disciples a question that tested their imagination:
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
Philip’s realism was revealed in his response:
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (v. 7)
Knowing that this was an impossible request, Philip made it clear that even the best scenario he could think of would fall short.
The next to respond was Andrew, whose spark of imagination sparked a miracle:
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Andrew added a disclaimer to the end of his momentary hallucination, but for a brief second, he imagined that this small amount might feed so many!
Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
As human beings who have spent the entirety of our developmental years in these bodies and on this earth, it’s easy to see why our thoughts would be just that – our thoughts. These thoughts have been molded by our experiences and we naturally predict and plan based on what we comprehend to be the possibilities.
But God’s predictions and plans come from a much different source than ours – not only is He able to take into consideration factors we are unaware of, He also has full knowledge of what His out-of-this-world power is capable of. Unjaded by human disappointments and earthly limitations, He dreams bigger dreams for us than we can dream for ourselves.
As those five loaves and two fish, meant to feed one, expanded to feed thousands, Jesus wasn’t taken by surprise. He had “already had in mind what he was going to do” (v. 6) and as the disciples watched this unfold, their thoughts became “higher” as well. What had seemed outrageously impossible a few minutes ago was now becoming reality!
Yet even then, in the disciples’ minds, the greatest possible outcome was for all the people to get some food. If they had planned this themselves, they never would have dreamed that everyone would get “enough” to be satisfied and even crazier – that there would be leftovers! (v. 12) This was beyond the biggest thing their human thoughts could have imagined.
Our oldest daughter is an inventor by nature – when she’s not climbing walls, she’s dreaming up plans and creating things. Since I am a realist by nature, my challenge as a parent is to encourage this creativity instead of pointing out all the reasons I believe her ideas won’t work.
The other day she asked me, “Do you think I could make ginger cookies without the molasses and use maple syrup instead?” It didn’t sound good to me and even though I didn’t want her to end up disappointed, I held back and told her to give it a try.
And good thing I did! She found a recipe and made (and I’m not exaggerating) some of the best cookies I have ever tasted. Yum!
Recently I’ve been challenging myself to turn off the music when I’m in the car and use that time to pray for people. I struggle to pray for others – not because I don’t want to or don’t have the time – but because I get sick of praying the same old, same old. My realism invades my prayers as I repeat, “God, rescue her from this” or “Take away his pain” or “Help her come to know You” over and over again.
I can only pray based on what I know of that person’s life, and knowing that the Holy Spirit inside of me knows more than I do, I can ask Him to guide my prayers. But at the end of the day, all I have are my limited “thoughts”. And if all I have is what I can think of, why not say “Here is…” and then pray for the biggest thing I can dream up?!
So instead of praying for my friend to be rescued from a trial, I pray for her future ministry to people in that same trial. Instead of praying for his pain to be relieved, I pray for the people in his life who will come to know Jesus because his pain led him to their place. Instead of praying for a loved one to come to know Jesus, I look at their God-given interests and talents and pray for those who are going to be led to Jesus by their gifts.
When praying these prayers, I regularly shake my head and say, “I can’t even imagine that ever happening!” But I’ve learned to snap out of it and say, “Why not? Jesus can do ANYTHING!”
Will I be disappointed? Maybe. But even if I am – I’m guessing God has something even greater than I can imagine in store!