Growing up the love of my life was baseball. I lived for the arrival of spring and the smell of saddle soap being rubbed in my glove and the crack of the bat. (This was before the use of metal bats that “ping”). At night I would take my transistor radio to bed and listen to the broadcasts of the Washington Senators games (so you know imagination was crucial) until I fell asleep.
Baseball brought my imagination to life. I pictured myself striking out the side or making the spectacular play in the field. But my favorite “dream” was probably what every ball player imagines: being up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the last inning. The bases are loaded and my team is three runs behind. With a full count I hit a walk off grand slam, winning the game. It’s like the ultimate scenario on the ball field.
Maybe you watched it Sunday night, but in the College Softball World Series that’s pretty much what happened to Ali Gardiner of the Florida Gators. Against their fiercest rival Alabama, and against the nation’s top senior pitcher, with two outs in the bottom of the last inning she hit the walk off grand slam that eliminated Alabama and propelled her Gators forward. It was one of those almost unbelievable-can’t happen-but did moments in sports. I’ve watched a lot of ball games in my life – thousands I guess – and it ranks right up there as one of the greatest endings imaginable.
(Ali Gardiner rounds the bases after her game winning grand slam.)
What makes the story even a bit more thrilling is that the walk off game winner was Ali’s first hit in the Series. She had been hitless in her last 9 at bats and was only 3 of her last 34. As her team mates watched her last at bat they knew like she did that she was in a slump. But this was the opportunity every ball player dreams about. And this dream came true.
But I’m not a sports writer, so there must be a parallel here to living with God’s purposes. Do you ever imagine what God must be like? Or do you imagine what He might be able to do through you to make a difference in this world?
Job wrote that, “We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty, yet he is so just and merciful that he does not oppress us.” Isaiah quoted God as saying, “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
That doesn’t mean imagining is pointless; it simply means no matter how great our imagination might be, God is greater still. Your ability to imagine or envision or dream – however you want to put it – is part of God’s creativity in your life.
Just because we can imagine it, of course, doesn’t mean it will happen or even that God approves. Our imaginations can “run wild” in the wrong direction, too. But still, it’s OK to dream about God doing amazing things in your life. Paul had this to say to the Philippian church, “But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.”
Could it be that people of faith never reach their full potential in fulfilling the purpose of God in their lives because we don’t imagine enough? Are our “dreams” so small that they stunt our faith?
In my lifetime I hope God allows me some walk-off grand slams for Him. I think that’s what this verse in Ephesians 3:20 means. “Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”
Rick Lawrenson is the Lead Pastor of Nags Head Church.
© 2009 Rick Lawrenson