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Did you ever take a story and try to imagine yourself as each of the main characters? Such an exercise can be incredibly beneficial, especially when applying it to stories from the Bible and the saints. And, besides being enlightening, it can also be a lot of fun.
To begin, it's helpful to choose a story that you know well. Re-imagining the story affords you the opportunity to see it in a new light, even if you have heard it one hundred times. You can spend more time on certain characters that might attract more of your imagination; oftentimes these characters turn out to be the ones you can most relate to.
Having practiced this mental exercise and consideration of scripture for years, I can't express how much I have learned about myself in the process!
Let me illustrate. Suppose we took the story of the Feast of the Presentation. As in most Bible stories, this one gives us a LOT to chew on. Seriously, I could write pages on this one story if I were to fully develop each character, but for the sake of preventing any potential snoring, I will considerably limit it to an appropriate blog length!
To begin, we could start by imagining Mary and Joseph approaching the steps of the temple, Mary holding the child Jesus in her arms. A mixture of feelings might have been going through both of their minds: joy at fulfilling this covenant of consecration with God yet a resigned sadness of the inevitable pain their son would endure during the actual circumcision. In other words, a struggle might have existed between a level of spiritual connection with God's grace and normal, understandable parental fears.
Suddenly, a man named Simeon enters the scene. Simeon, a just man who had been assured by God that he would not leave the earth until he had seen the Salvation of Israel, was aging quickly. Attending the temple daily, perhaps he may have struggled with the temptation to believe that God's promise would never come to fulfillment. Or, perhaps his faith had grown stronger as God provided him the grace to hold onto His promise. Either way, we can imagine his joy, his wonderment, his feeling of completion, when he beheld the baby Jesus and suddenly the truth was revealed to him.
Taking the baby in his arms, he looked down, intense gratitude and understanding filling his heart. Given the incredible honor of performing the consecration, he did so, and when finished, his honest, heartfelt prayer to the Lord was lifted up:
"Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace, according to Your Word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."
A quick look from Mary and Joseph's viewpoints reveals a couple filled with amazement at the words spoken by this holy man.
Perhaps they shot a quick look at each other that said, "He knows?"
This question would have been quickly put to rest as Simeon blessed each of them with the words,
"Behold, this child is is destined for the fall and rise of man in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword shall pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Joseph may have felt a surge of love towards the Creator and gratitude at being included in the Master plan for the Salvation of Israel, as well as twinges of concern in his protector's heart at the words spoken about his wife.
Mary's heart was likely filled with great intensity as well, thoughts including inner prayers of praise to the Lord filled with gratitude and love. However, she may have also been concerned at Simeon's words regarding his words that she should be pierced by a sword.
I could continue on and develop this story into much greater detail but I will stop here.
I must add that although approaching stories in this manner can be greatly illuminating, there is a danger. One must be VERY careful to always keep in mind that you are "just supposing." This means that just because we may assign certain feelings and thoughts to our characters, it is highly possible that these same feelings and thoughts did not actually exist in reality. In other words, we can't adjust a Bible story so much that it becomes the "Bible Truth" even though it has not been expressly stated by God or the author of the story you are re-imagining.
Keeping this in mind, the idea of re-imagining can greatly contribute to your prayer life.
Try it and see! What great illuminations are waiting for you at the end of your re-imagined tale?
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