As writers, we have the honor of being allowed access to a reader’s mind. We are trusted with the job of entering into a person’s thoughts to encourage, to entertain, and maybe even to change them.
Words have power. We’ve all heard this before. The influence behind the words we write begins in our own imaginations. If we wish for a reader to catch the message behind our stories, feel the positive emotions connected with it, or to better understand the character and nature of God, we as authors must take care to cleanse and guard our imaginations.
In subtle ways, negative patterns can creep into our hearts. These patterns aren’t always easy to detect until they’ve been operating for a while, pulling us into destructive habits. This definitely indicates the time has come to make changes. But even better, there are ways to avoid this path if we are willing to do a little daily maintenance on our souls.
The imagination is the theater screen we can watch to stay in touch with what is operating in our souls. If negativity, sin, or dark emotions are playing out in our imaginations, then chances are good there is an issue in our souls in need of cleansing and healing.
Once this has taken place, our hearts are restored to receive a word from the Lord which gets projected onto the movie screen of imagination in our minds.
The season of the church year observed right now is Lent, the forty days of discernment and repentance leading up to Easter. This is actually a good time to be taking a look at our hearts and offering confession. Do you find yourself in a place of negativity, sin, or darkness? Maybe your imagination functions decently enough representing joy or love, but you still feel the pull of underlying struggles that threaten to hijack your message.
The remainder of this blog post will lay out for us practical ways we can engage with the Presence of God, obtain healing, and receive his word so that we are free to share and to write accurately representing his glory and his truth.
The first thing we can do to interact with the Lord is to build extended times of quiet into our lives. Shut off the radio and the TV. Decide upon a comfortable place where you are sitting up and attentive. If the practice of quiet is new to you, begin by setting a timer for five minutes, and gradually work up to ten minutes or longer. Notice the sounds; your heartbeat, your breathing, your thoughts, traffic, nature.
Let all of the noise go. Say to the Lord, “I invite you into this place with me.” Read one of these Scripture passages:
- Psalm 63:1-8 John 12:1-8
- Psalm 37:1-7 John 15:1-16
- Psalm 139 Ephesians 3:14-20
- Matthew 14:13-21
Ask the Lord to reveal himself to you as you read. Sit in the quiet and listen to your heart until the timer goes off. Write down what you hear or the images you receive. Keep track of this over time as you continue the conversation throughout the week.
The second thing we can do is practicing spiritual disciplines. This sounds like an old term, and it is, coming to us out of church history from the monastics who spent intentional time seeking God. Spiritual discipline basically means developing a habit with the goal of communion with God. Here is a list of spiritual practices I have found helpful over the years. You don’t have to do them all at the same time. Pick one or two to focus on for 30 to 40 days, and then choose another. After a while, you will have a rich repertoire of disciplines to draw from to help you stay attentive to the Lord:
- Hospitality Reading Scripture Prayer
- Service Silence Care of the Earth
- Gratitude Worship Telling the truth
- Rest Fasting Unplugging
The holy imagination is one that plays the story of a soul available to God and experiencing ongoing transformation through the Holy Spirit. This growth in Christ is what gives our words power, ultimately affecting readers for good and changing our worlds.
Michelle De Bruin is a worship leader and spiritual services provider. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two teenage sons. A romantic at heart, Michelle is always on the lookout for glimpses of God’s love though the window of a good story.
Michelle is the author of the book, “Hope for Tomorrow.” For more information about her writing and about Michelle, visit her website or follow her on social media.
A young man leaves his career to care for his family and agrees to board the teacher who offers him a priceless gift.