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Moving God’s Word from Your Head to Your Heart

Moving God’s Word from Your Head to Your Heart

After a few years of many bible studies, formal and informal, I longed so much to see Jesus. I began to not only read the gospel scenes but I’d close my eyes and imagine them—I’d even see myself in them. I’d interact with Jesus in my mind’s eye.

One day, after I had imagined being with the Lord in a gospel event, I wondered what He thought about it. Was I like a child who hadn’t learned to stop imagining and pretending? Was it fantasizing? The dictionary describes fantasizing as “indulging in daydreaming about something desired.” And the word “imagine” used with “fantasy” is described as “wanting something to happen and imagining it.” I had to admit, that described my situation. I reasoned further that God would want what is real for me and Him, and not what isn’t true.

I asked the Lord to forgive me if I’d done something wrong. I asked Him to show me how else I could “see” Him because I longed for Him. Later in the day, the same yearning for more of Jesus drove me to go to a Christian book store. I felt if I read an inspired book about Him then my desire would be somewhat quenched.

After perusing books for more than an hour, with my arms full of the ones I had chosen, I headed to the store’s cash register until I sensed God’s thoughts within me say: “You don’t have the right book.” I was surprised. I realized these were God’s thoughts that had come to me.

I returned to the bookshelves and put all the books I had selected back in the right places. I prayed, “What book?” No answer. However, I looked at a few more titles on the spines of the books. Then I caught sight of a title that piqued my interest: The Joy of Listening to God by Joyce Huggett.

I opened the book to its middle section and read:

Imagine that you have been allowed the privilege of walking with the eleven, out of Jerusalem to the Mount of Ascension.

Stay behind them as you leave the noise and clutter and the stifling heat of Jerusalem behind. Feel the heat warming your body as you start the steep climb.

Feel the warm dust creeping into your sandals. What can you see?

What can you hear?  . . .

What can you smell? . . .

Become an integral part of it. How do you feel?

Look at your companions, the eleven disciples. What sort of people are they?

. . . Now you are nearing the place where Jesus promised to meet you.

. . .  And now—there He is—standing in front of you! Take a good look at Jesus.[1]

 

The author’s visual instruction was more than I quoted here. Can you imagine how I felt holding that book in my hands? I think the shock of reading such a perfect answer to my prayer about imagining myself with Jesus in the gospels was definitely one of those times I knew that I knew God was showing me something important. He obviously liked that I used my imagination the way I did.

 

I learned from Huggett’s book that this kind of imaginative meditation has been documented as useful since the third century. The idea is to let the Scriptures touch and speak to us using our senses. My desire for Jesus had led me into a true and real experience with Him. This kind of prayer helps a person to “be” with Jesus spiritually. Especially when one’s desire is to see Him, the Holy Spirit is part of the experience.

I later read about this type of prayer and meditation on the Scriptures in other well-respected authors’ books. By using our God-given imagination, especially with Scripture, we can see the things God wants us to see and experience Him up close.

Jesus came so that we would know God and relate to Him. Our imaginations were created by God for God. Why should self, Satan, or the world be the only ones to show their scenes? God certainly wants to use our imaginations—He expresses Himself through visual displays, through story, images, pictures, visions, words, and dreams. They all pass through our imaginations.

If we pray to the Holy Spirit and enter into the Scriptures prayerfully, humbly, with a desire for God Himself, we will encounter Him.

The most significant part of meditating on the gospels with my imagination was that I saw Jesus’s humanity for myself. I prayed with my imagination for many years. I don’t that much anymore. But that’s okay; we are always changing. What worked for me then doesn’t now.

God is our companion and guide. The key is to live from our hearts and that means paying attention to what makes our heart beat faster for God, or what gives us the greatest joy in how we experience Him.

[1]The Joy of Listening to God by Joyce Huggett, copyright ©1986 InterVarsity Press. Used with Permission.

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This blog is an excerpt of THE ART OF LOVING GOD: How to Live From Your Heart in God’s Epic Love Story.

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