When I read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson this past year (I wrote several posts; the last one was 5 Takeaways From “The Circle Maker”), one section that struck me was the idea that as we age, we typically follow one of two paths: we either move toward memory or imagination.
Batterson writes …
Neuroimaging has shown that as we age, the center of cognitive gravity tends to shift from the imaginative right brain to the logical left brain. And this neurological tendency presents a grave spiritual danger. At some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic. (32) … As we age, either imagination overtakes memory or memory overtakes imagination. Imagination is the road less taken … (33)
It’s often said that young people are naïve and idealistic, but as they grow older, they mature and move beyond their idealism. I can see this in my own life. As an early 20-something, I had some pretty big ministry-related dreams (I hope I still do).
It’s hard to believe looking back more than 17 years ago when Joleen and I completed seminary in Tennessee and moved to Pennsylvania (for Joleen, it was moving back to PA), that we drove to North East, PA in a 20-foot Ryder truck pulling a car carrier without a place to move into and unload our stuff when we arrived at our destination!
This loss of idealism as we “grow up” is usually viewed as a good thing, but in many ways, it’s a bad thing. We should certainly mature through experience, but we must also guard against living out of memory instead of imagination.
Batterson describes imagination as “the pathway of prayer” (33) …
Prayer and imagination are directly proportional: the more you pray the bigger your imagination becomes because the Holy Spirit super-sizes it with God-sized dreams. One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether your dreams are getting bigger or smaller. The older you get, the more faith you should have because you’ve experienced more of God’s faithfulness. (33)
There’s certainly nothing wrong with memories, but when the pull of the past becomes stronger than the pull of the future, we’re in trouble!
Are your dreams getting bigger or smaller?