What would it have been like to bump into Jesus along a dusty road in Galilee? Can you imagine the setting of the picnic by the lake, when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish? Are you able to envision the dust filling the room when four guys tore off the roof to let their paralyzed friend down in front of Jesus?
And then, right at that moment in the story, Jesus turns and locks eyes with you. He smiles. What do you say?
Today’s challenge is to talk with Jesus, right from the middle of a gospel story. Through the use of our imagination, we will find ourselves near Jesus, and sharing with him our questions, our thoughts, our heart.
Here’s how we do it.
- Pick a gospel story you find intriguing. There are many to choose from, ranging from Matthew through John. I hesitate to suggest any to you. If you aren’t able to pick a story within a few minutes, simply turn to the early chapters in Mark, and find one there.
- Taking the story you’ve chosen, read it through several times. And as you do, focus on the details. What are you told about the location, the setting, the time of day? Who is there? What is happening? What just happened before this story? What is the emotional mood within the story (are people upset? concerned? joyful? confused?)? Soak in the story for a bit.
- Once the story has begun to solidify in your imagination, begin to walk around in it. Our imaginations are powerful. As you see this story take shape, look at it from different perspectives. Breathe deeply: what does it smell like? Listen carefully: what sounds to you hear? Is there food? What does it taste like? Press further into the scene to experience it imaginatively.
- Now that the scene of this story is familiar to you, where is Jesus? Look for Jesus within the story. Who is getting his attention? What is he doing? How are others reacting to him? What is his facial expression? What is he saying?
- And now, imagine Jesus turning to look at you. He smiles, and then walks over, eyes never leaving yours. As he comes up to you, he asks, “How are you, friend?” What do you say?
- Here is where you have a conversation with Jesus. Perhaps you both find a more comfortable place to sit together, or you take a walk down the lane. Maybe you are already sitting, and Jesus joins you on a patch of grass. See it all unfold, and then just talk to him. Talk to him, and as you do, imagine his eyes, attentive, listening, focused, warm. He is fully fixed on you, his beloved friend. Open your heart and share with him all that you are thinking and feeling and wondering.
- When you are done your conversation, imagine it finishing naturally. Perhaps someone else came and needed Jesus’ attention, too. Maybe a child of yours came close and asked for your help. Or you both had somewhere else to be. Finish as you would a conversation with any dear friend–with a hug, a handshake, a few quick words, a farewell.
Imaginative prayer is an incredibly powerful tool for conversation with Jesus. And while it may be very new for many of you, I encourage you to give it a serious try. On a first attempt, it may seem a little stiff, but I know that as you practice it, the ability of your own imagination will grow, and you will be able to see Jesus more clearly and discover conversation with him becomes more easy and more real as you do.
Let me know how this goes for you. I’d love to hear about it. You can comment below.
My prayer for you today: Father, help us to see your Son within your story. Give our imagination insight and courage, so that we may indwell your Word, and speak to your Son from within it. Overcome our fears and open us up to conversation with Jesus, by your Holy Spirit. Amen.