When Real Is Better Than Imaginary

Published on January 6, 2011 by CT in Blog, Thoughts

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Imaginary is always better than real, right?

For example, our family recently went on the public tour of the White House.  I have seen this building for years in pictures and from afar in person, and I have imagined it as a house that is grander, more romantic, and altogether different from any other.

Given its history and proximity to power, it is different from other homes.  But I noticed the paint strokes on the trim, and a creak in the floors, and the fact that the insides aren’t quite as big as I thought.  So in that sense, it’s not that different at all.

Or the time my friends and I went to a taping of Price Is Right.  We were all in the Air Force, so we wore our dress uniforms, knowing that one of us would be picked as a contestant (and our friend Brooke went on to win the Cliffhanger game).  I had seen the show on TV and imagined the studio as a cavernous space, but in reality, it was like being in a small community theater.

Perhaps this is why we love fantasy worlds like Narnia or Hogwarts so much—there’s a bit more luster to an imaginary world.  And this yearning tells us something about ourselves.  CS Lewis hints at this reality:  “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

In my own life, reality often leads to disappointment.  What I mean is that I have certain expectations or hopes or dreams that often run headlong into the wall of reality.  When my satisfaction is tied to those expectations, and they don’t play out, then I find myself frustrated, discouraged, and wondering why I am still unfulfilled.

But there’s One who does not lead to disappointment.  In His “presence there is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).  At His back is a trail of blinding glory.  His Son is the lamp that gives eternal light to the holy city, New Jerusalem.

And here’s the thing about God:  the reality is infinitely greater than the imagined.  So let’s delight in Him and His promises and look forward with eager longing for the day we can bask in the glory of His presence.  And let’s allow the reality that His reality is far greater that our imaginations to spur us on in faith to love Him more fully today.

Question:  When have you found the reality of a place or situation to be a shadow of what you’d imagined?