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Cultivating Imagination In Your Child: God's Creative Gift

Imagination and Curiosity are the twin children of every great mind. Cultivate these in your children, and you will give them the gifts of problem solving, invention, and creativity. Their lives and others' will be better for this.

(photo by James England)

"I'm so glad you're both here! You are just in time! Will you help me check for pirates?" With me at their side and wasting no time, The two little ones, 5 and 3 years of age, put on their life vests and climbed into the paddle boat armed with long range water guns. Immediately the cries went out, 'There's one!" and streams of water were sent into the air. "There's the other one!" Squealing and shrieking were heard throughout all the Seven Seas, and we laughed and refilled our water blasters. The battle waged for quite awhile until we decided that we had won the day and all pirates were vanquished. We could then go back to our own dock and splash in the water in safety. We were richly rewarded with lemonade and sugar cookies.

I love being a grandmother. All the fun and joy of motherhood, without quite as much pressure.

Most of us think of children as naturally imaginative, and some are more so than others, but actually children see the world quite literally. Encouraging our little ones to play games which require imagination is one way of helping them develop this gift; besides it is fun! In addition to ridding our cove of pirates, my grandchildren and I ran a restaurant in which the only menu item was that classic sandwich known as the Fluffernutter: peanut butter and marshmallow creme on whole wheat bread.

In my post titled "Do This So When Your Children Ask.." I expressed how highly God values encouraging our children to be curious. Today I want to discuss another great value that God holds dear even though we don't often think about it as a spiritual gift: imagination. It literally can change the world. Imagination and curiosity are the twin children of every great mind. Cultivate these in your children and you will give them the gifts of problem solving, invention, and creativity. Their lives will be better.

Reading aloud, singing, dancing, drawing are all ways to increase creativity and imagination. Spend time in real conversation with your children. As you go through the day to day activities, ask if there are other ways that they can imagine doing ordinary things. Look up some Rube Goldburg illustrations, and enjoy them together. Take joy in admiring the beautiful and the unusual. Notice the landscape around you and point out the things that make our world work. Stop lights, elevators, automatic doors. Ask, "I wonder who thought of that? Isn't that a good idea? I wonder what would happen without stop lights?"

The scriptures cite imagination as a result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." Joel 2:28, and referenced by Paul in Acts 2:17-18. Average people who allow the Holy Spirit to work within them will envision the world not as it is, but as it could be. This is imagination being used to its fullest possible level. The most remarkable of God's servants who have shown us the face of Christ used their imagination to create new ways to fulfill the ancient command to be the hands and feet of Jesus. There is always something new that we can do for Jesus.

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta imagined that there was a way to comfort human beings who were forced to die in the filthy gutters of a most foul part of the city. Her imaginings became a ministry that blessed hundreds of thousands of people who would have suffered and died alone otherwise. William Booth saw poor and homeless people wandering the streets of London without help or hope and imagined a way to reach them with food and shelter. The result of his imagination is The Salvation Army which continues the mission to this day. Sir George Williams imagined a way to help young men become productive members of their communities and the YMCA became a reality that remains a staple.

Consider what would have happened to the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009 if Chesley Sullenberger had not had the gift of imagination. My husband, a private pilot, insists that Sully had imagined landing in the Hudson River dozens of times because a pilot is always looking for a safe spot to land especially in the moments after takeoff. So when Sully actually had to land in the river, he knew he could do it because he had seen it in his imagination time after time. There are countless examples of how the world is better because someone imagined a better way and turned their imaginings into reality. Every invention began in someone's imagination.

Imagination is a great gift of God. Consider how His imagination must work! The Creator of the world and everything in it has all the imaginings of all the universe swirling all around. Since we, His precious children were created in His image, we have imagination as well. God loves the loving results of our Christ centered imaginations. When you allow your child and yourself to imagine the world as God would love for it to be, you become more fully like Jesus who showed us a completely new way of being: loving our enemies, giving of ourselves, being born again, and so much more. Imagine how God could use your imagination to make the world a more loving place. Just imagine it!

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