Over the summer I read Henry Kissinger’s new book which has the simple title of Leadership. It was excellent, providing pen portraits of six political leaders of the twentieth century with lessons to learn from each. I expect Kissinger had benefitted from researchers and other advisers in writing the book, but no doubt the words were his, and it included some personal reflections too, for in his capacity as a statesman he had met each leader. It was a remarkable book, all the more because Kissinger is now over 100 years old.
As people like Kissinger are living longer these days, one question many are asking is: what kind of life will they be living? At The Belfrey in York where I am the Vicar, we have people in our church family across the ages, including lots of elderly people – seniors, as we like to call them, and they are amazing! So full of life and wisdom and joy. Many are active in all sorts of ways, and we value them all. I want to do all I can to see them, and future seniors, thriving.
I spent some time last week with a senior in our church who is just a few years younger than Kissinger and is wanting to leave a good legacy. He’s been praying and seeking the Lord’s direction, and is excited about various possibilities and projects that he’s working on. As I came away after we’d talked and prayed, I felt so inspired by his recent fresh baptism of imagination.
The next day I was searching through my quotations file for quotes on a book I’m writing on giving, and found some timely words I’d extracted from Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker which I’d forgotten about. I read The Circle Maker ten years ago, when it was first published. It was my book of the year, not just because of its fascinating approach to prayer, but also for the many nuggets of wisdom it contains. As I re-read Batterson’s thought-provoking words, it felt like I stumbled across gold, glittering in all its preciousness. Here’s what I read:
‘Neuro-imaging is basically a medical scan of the brain and nervous system. It’s shown that as we age, we think a little differently. We move from more of an imaginative right brain as teenagers to a more logical left brain as adults. Problem is, the neurological tendency presents a pretty serious 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…
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As we age, either creativity overtakes memory or memory overtakes creativity. Imagination is the road less travelled, but I think it’s the pathway of prayer. Prayer and imagination are directly proportional: the more you pray the bigger your imagination becomes because the Holy Spirit supersizes it with God-sized dreams. A good 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. And it’s God’s faithfulness that should increase our faith and expand our vision.’
Wow! ‘The more you pray, the bigger your imagination becomes.’ I agree. And that’s exactly what I was seeing in my conversation last week: an enlarged imagination, emerging from prayer, resulting in action, and more prayer!
I know one day I won’t be able to ‘do’ so much for God’s kingdom, and that’s ok. I will bring other gifts to the table. But one thing I will be able to do to my dying day, is pray. And I want to pray with faith, and vision, with an ever-expanding and ever-hopeful imagination. That’s my desire and prayer not just for myself, but for all God’s people in my city and region, whatever their age: for thankful hearts at the faithfulness of God, and a faith-filled imagination for all that’s to come.
Thanks Matthew, such a great reminder that when we can no longer ‘do’ much to further the kingdom we will still be able to pray!