I’ve loved the Bible for as long as I can remember. One aspect of childhood I cherish is biblical training I received in Sunday School and other church activities.
Although the church I attended did not have a formal confirmation program, I was encouraged to learn and memorize scripture. My motivation may have been a reward or gaining the acceptance and admiration of authority figures, but nevertheless, the seed of God’s Word sank deeply into the soil of my soul.
Over the years I’ve studied the Bible for information and truth. I’ve also turned to scripture for inspiration, guidance and comfort.
During the past few weeks, while working through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises (19th Annotation), I’ve been encouraged to engage my imagination while reading Scripture. This has been a new experience.
For example, in a recent post, I discussed the account of the Wise Men who visited the Christ child. As I read slowly and pondered this story, I began to imagine what the Wise Men may have looked like, how they may have interacted with one another, what they were like as human beings.
The impressive, aristocratic travelers were revered enough to be welcomed by the mighty King Herod. Yet, without reservation, they entered the humble home of a ‘blue-collar’ carpenter and his young wife. They bowed low to worship a baby, who–upon first glance—may have appeared to be quite ordinary.
They not only worshipped, but they shared their wealth with the humble family. The financial gifts were probably going to be needed a short time later when Joseph was instructed to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of the greedy, paranoid and wicked King Herod. (See Matthew 2:1-21)
I’m an observer of people, and I try to look for admirable characteristics in almost everyone. Sometimes, I admire a person’s attractiveness, sense of style, talents, work ethic, kindness, fitness or gift of homemaking and hospitality.
Probably, though, people I admire most are men and women who quest for knowledge, who are intelligent. They’re curious, observant—always discovering. Even though their bright brains are filled with much learning, they are not ‘big-headed.’ Rather, they possess a gentle humility.
They embrace the mystery of God, listen respectfully to others, and are generous in a variety of ways. They find delight in and are willing to gain insight from an innocent child and never show disdain for those who are less well educated. They esteem simplicity, practical common sense, intrinsic savvy and godly wisdom as much as intellectualism.
As I pondered the story of the Magi and let my imagination make connections to my world, I concluded, I really like these guys! I also realized how God uses many different types of people to accomplish divine purposes. This causes me to worship God in a new dimension.
If incorporating imagination into your own Bible reading sounds intriguing, I encourage you to re-read a favorite story. Using your imagination, visualize yourself in the scene. Discover how you may be drawn into a fresh scriptural experience.
If this spiritual practice does not resonate with you, don’t use it. Stay true to the way the Spirit is speaking to you. My deepest desire is that we will be led always in longing to discover more about God with awesome wonder and worship being the result. That is always my most important objective.
Blessings as you wonder and worship…