Let’s take an excursion into Imagination Land today! No, we won’t be delivered on board a red Grumman sea-plane, we won’t be greeted by either Ricardo Montalbán or Hervé Villechaize, and this will not be our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the fantasy of our choosing. (I’m much too practical for such a distraction as that.)
What we will do for a few moments is engage the imagination … yeah, you know that essential part of your brain? The organ you once used to envision yourself as a swashbuckling pirate or a ravishing princess held captive in a tower guarded by sword-wielding savages. Yeah, that brain.
And if it’s been so long ago you’ve forgotten where you put it (your imagination, not your brain), close your eyes a moment and see if you can imagine the Dallas Cowboys actually making it to the Super Bowl – plus, since we’re imagining, you’ve managed to snag tickets in one of the prestigious executive boxes. (I told you to use your imagination, didn’t I?!)
So here we are, imaginations engaged. Proceed by first imagining you’ve been born on this planet … that shouldn’t be too hard, since in truth, you have been. If you’re reading this post, it is self-evident you have been born.
Then imagine, you’re a kid, working your way through all the fun and pitfalls of being a kid … first birthday, second birthday, third, and eventually, you navigate all the way to your seventh birthday! Woo-hoo! Life is good. You’re happy, well-adjusted, energetic, have a wonderful family of folks who encourage you and love you and provide many of the advantages growing up in our Western culture allow.
Then suddenly, imagine everything changes because one day – out of the blue – there’s this horrendous medical diagnosis. You’re told (remember, we’re imagining) by doctors and specialists that you’ve got cancer. The “big C” is not going to go away … and eventually it will kill you. IT WILL KILL YOU!
What do you do? For most seven year olds, this diagnosis is going to be meaningless. I mean, in my seven year old imagination, I don’t even know what dying is. I don’t know what cancer is either. Do you, my seven year old friend? (Is your imagination keeping up?) In my seven year old imagination, I’m probably thinking about running and playing with paper dolls and reading books and enjoying the company of my siblings and parents. Dying? Yeah, maybe someday.
Let’s challenge our imaginations to stretch one step further down this imaginary road. From the start of your life till its end will be less than 7,000 days. Got that? Less than seven thousand days!
Oh, you’ll make it through childhood and wonder of all wonders, you’ll arrive in your teens. You’ll see your nineteenth birthday on the horizon … but you won’t quite reach it before those numbered days are abruptly ended. You don’t know from the age of seven that your days will number less than 7,000; you just know adulthood will not be in the cards … for you.
What do you do? How do you spend what few days you have?
It’s difficult for most of us to imagine this scenario, but work with me. In your imagination, are you bitter? Pissed off? Angry enough to do away with yourself? The guillotine’s going to slam down eventually, why not pre-empt its fall?
Or maybe, in your imagination, you decide you’re going “to reach for the gusto” (as an ad for the “beer that made Milwaukee famous” once encouraged). You’re a teenager by this time, after all. Do you do it? Reach for the gusto? Booze, drugs, girls, party hardy, etc. What have you got to lose? Go sky diving! Drive cars as fast as possible!
Or perhaps, like one young man, one fresh-faced cherubic individual with the name Clayton McDonald (whose life story I’ve briefly related and whose images I’ve included with this post), you do everything you can to help other people … and mostly, you share your story because above all else, you want them to know Jesus Christ and His promise of Eternity!
This young man died almost five years ago but his legacy lives on in a beautiful short film that is well worth watching and sharing. I acknowledge his courage and praise our God for his example.
Imagination is great! But when the number of our days has come to a close, imagination won’t carry us into Eternity. Only Christ can do that.