Faith & Worship: Clocks back, faith forward

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Each fall and spring I change the settings on the clocks because of Daylight Saving Time. Last Sunday we gained an hour. What’s not to like about gaining an hour? But then I thought, I gained an hour … for what? What did I do with that hour? What do any of us do with the time we have? Time is precious.

It’s easy to waste an hour and not even remember what I did with it. It’s also easy to get caught up remembering times long ago and forget what day it is. Regrets about life can consume our attention and take our time. Worries too. Then I think of so many unspoken words cut short by someone’s death, or a friend’s move far away. And friendships that wither because of my preoccupation or neglect. And the unexpected storms, illnesses, and financial challenges that can change life on a dime. Time is precious. Whatever our time in life, living life well is no easy matter.

The Apostle Paul wrote letters to the churches he founded and those letters have been included in the New Testament. In a letter that he wrote to the church he founded in Philippi, Greece, he reflected on the time he had left. Paul was writing from prison in Rome. His days were numbered and he knew it. Interestingly his focus wasn’t on past memories or even his present problems. He talked about the future.

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Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).

Remembering the past is nice, and living in the present may be necessary, but the future is where it’s at, always. Paul was saying to his readers that life has to be lived forward, even when present circumstances are challenging and uncertain.

But how do you and I “press on” when painful memories haunt our souls? How do we move forward when we’re hurting in this moment? How do we press on when we cannot see what time will bring us in the future, when the future seems foreboding?

If Paul’s life is any clue, we have to learn to see our situation with new eyes. That’s what Paul did. To do that we have to look for new possibilities. How do we do that? It starts with imagination.

According to the dictionary, imagination is “the action of forming ideas or concepts not present to the senses.” Imagination sees beyond the reality of the present moment. Artists live imaginative lives. Art envisions and achieves something that is beyond what is present. In the business world, some call this imagination “casting a vision.” Imagination transcends the intellect and goes beyond the senses. Logic may change my mind, but imagination enlarges my vision and feeds my soul. Imagination kindles my faith in the future.

All of us imagine. We may not think about it too much, but we do it. No marriage ever happens without both bride and groom spending endless hours imagining their future life together. Careers are imagined long before they become reality. Children too. And new homes. And vacation trips. Imagination is how we learn to see the possibilities of the future. We pray for healing long before we feel it, and peace, and energy, and answers to questions, and calm for our fears.

Albert Einstein once wrote: “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

Imagination is the gateway to tomorrow. Imagination is the heart of creation and the habitation of God’s Spirit.

No matter how skeptical you might be, imagination is more real than you think. And reality less real than it seems. The frontiers of what is possible are not limited by what we see. Life itself is miraculous and unexpected, brimming with possibility even in its limitations. And the Bible is filled with examples, Jesus’ resurrection being a marvelous case in point. Hope is born in imagination of new possibilities for life.

So whatever you are facing in your future, whatever time you have left, whether an hour or a minute, begin with your imagination. Imagination is not all there is to the spiritual life. We have to claim the possibilities we imagine through faith and hard work. But imagination is the seedbed of hope and the energizer of faith. Jesus showed us as much in his vision for the Kingdom of God. In a real sense, our imagination is like an affirmation of our faith, and even daydreaming can be an act of prayer.

So what to do with that extra hour? Albert Einstein said, “Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” Start today, imagining a future, God’s future for your life and our life together.

Pastor Dent Davis, Tryon Presbyterian Church