Early in my ministry career, I was challenged to take Veggie Tales out of the preschool ministry curriculum, because Veggie Tales are made up characters. Some well-meaning parents did not want their children to associate God, who is real, with a talking tomato. Understandable huh? But let’s walk this whole concept of real and unreal back to the thought process of a child. Children, especially preschoolers are learning many new things, and what is real and what is imaginary can get confusing. But they can learn from both, and many times simultaneously and equally without conflict or validation. They just accept it.
That reminds me of a few Bible passages about children. In these passages, Jesus encourages the disciples to humble themselves like little children to enter the kingdom of God.
(Matthew 18:1-5, Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 9:33-37, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 9:46-48, Luke 18:15-17)
Ever really thought about what that means? Most children accept life with simplicity and enthusiasm ready to believe and trust with little or no proof or prodding.
Can you remember when you were three or four years old? You probably colored outside the lines and made up funny songs. You probably laughed more, loved more freely, and embraced the mystery of all the wonder around you more often. Your eyes probably sparkled as you marveled at all that was around you and how you were learning to interpret it through your young eyes and heart. You may have made up stories or even had imaginary friends. You dared to imagine when you weren’t able to understand, or control, or figure things out.
Kids rely on their imaginations to fill in the blanks when logic doesn’t make sense. Kids are concrete learners. This is how they navigate the lack of physical evidence. They imagine. Imaginations are not a bad thing. God gave them to us. Without our imaginations, kids (and adults) could not imagine a God that we cannot see, or hear, or know concretely. It is true most young children can confuse the importance of God next to a superhero, or a Veggie Tale, but it is their imagination that allows them to take a leap of faith and just believe. We can all take a page out of the imagination book from kids, to learn to trust God more without requiring more evidence, more control, more understanding or explanation.
We can imagine.
Crash Course on Imagination/Creativity for Adults
- Be present in the moment – look around- look right in front of you....
- Take a risk, try something new – failure is not going to stop you from trying. Color outside the lines.
- Challenge assumptions – Don’t be passive about what you believe, Be an active learner and contributor.
- Stay curious – Ask what if? Why not?
- Try looking at things differently. Grab hold of and get behind a BIG Vision!
- Watch one of your favorite make-believe shows, and ask yourself; “What did I like so much about this?” Be patient for and with the answer.
While the big talking tomato on veggie tales may not resonate with you, think about what does. Take some time to enjoy, to wonder, to imagine. Take your imagination for a ride and see where it takes you. Trust God to help you navigate to a new vision of who God is and who you are as His child, His creation.
Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.