The Truth of Imagination

“We were created in the imagination of God.”

Someone said this the other night and it got me thinking. Of course it got me thinking—I am a thinker, after all, and I like to discover the deeper truths to every statement that strikes me as profound. So here I go. Take the dive with me, if you like.

This statement refers to the fact that, just like any artist, God got creative when He thought about making each one of us. Before we existed in the physical, we came alive in His thoughts—in His imagination. It was therefore God’s imagination that caused us to become a reality.

Now, most of us do not naturally equate the word imagination with the word reality. They are, in fact, on quite opposite spectrums, right? We use our imaginations when we’re conjuring up fantasies, while reality is made up of the things we actually experience in life on a daily basis. Hmm. Is it possible, though, that the two are far more closely related than we thought? As an artist and a fiction writer, I have believed in this dubious connection for a long time—it’s always been at the back of my brain. I don’t think I would write fiction if it didn’t speak to reality, because then it would feel pointless.

The first being who ever possessed an imagination was God, our Creator. It was also God who gave each of us our imaginations. So the question is—why would God endow us with a tool if it didn’t point to some kind of reality? He doesn’t trick us. He wouldn’t entice us with nice or wild thoughts just for the fun of the thought. He gave us imagination to lead us into truth—to stir within us a curiosity that seeks to uncover a truer reality than we can see that maybe can only be tapped into through this particular gift. At least while we remain on the Earth, where we face all kinds of limitations.

Oh, but there is this one unlimited thing that we all have. And not to sound repetitious, but that is our imagination. Now certainly, like every other part of us, our imaginations need to be redeemed. But when we are born again, we are given fresh eyes and transformed minds. Our imaginations are not taken away because they are evil or vain; rather, they are empowered with new life.

Imagination creates and uncovers reality. It reveals what already is and ushers things that are not into existence. A while back I was having a conversation with one of my writer friends about our characters. We both came to the conclusion that our characters are real, that they actually exist. You may think we’re crazy, but nevertheless as authors we are absolutely convinced that our characters are real people. It doesn’t make a lot of sense; but then in some ways it does. Again, let me reiterate that I believe God gives us creative ideas, stories, and thoughts not as some kind of escape from reality but as a means to enter into a reality we may not have seen yet. This is why I believe writing is prophetic, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry or something else. When we employ our imagination to create scenarios and characters, for instance, we are tapping into a reality that we haven’t yet encountered in real life or that we haven’t seen in that way before. But these people are real. I’ve gotten to meet some of my own characters after writing them, believe it or not.

Now, before you stop there and dismiss me as some sort of lunatic, let me attempt to explain. Sometimes I meet part of a character in myself. I write a scene where they do, say, or think something in particular and later realize that action or thought was a characteristic of the true “me.” And I’m able to enter into that reality as I learn something new about myself. Other times I have literally met other people who embody a character in a certain way, helping me to understand that all that time I was writing about them. And my character’s discovery of freedom and truth is or becomes a mirror of what this person is going through, or the reality that they need to enter into.

So I suppose what I’m boiling all this down to is this: do not discount your imagination. Imagination speaks to reality. Fiction always holds a measure of truth. That’s why I write it. It helps me see life from new angles so that I understand more and more what is really real. My characters exist. They personify my own heart and thoughts. They bring into reality the true identity of another person, whether I know them currently, will meet them soon, or will never meet them at all.

We were created in the imagination of God. What will your imagination call into existence? The possibilities are limitless, whether you’re an artist or whether you merely begin to think thoughts that usher realities that you long for into the physical world. Don’t discredit the power or the gift of your redeemed imagination.

Below is my friend Jasper Ruiz, a wandering musician who discovers he’ll never be home until he faces his shame and stops allowing his past to define his future. You’ll get to meet him someday in my novel entitled “Deserts.” 😉




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