The gift of thinking and the luxury of fantasy.
One of the best things that God did during creation, as well as one of the greatest risks He took, is this: giving man the ability to think, to reason, to dream, to fantasize.
Do you know the risk that God took in giving us the luxury of fantasy, the ability to think, to desire something better for ourselves, to solve problems on our own, to create a better future for ourselves and our generation?
That was a great risk, and in fact, man didn’t waste time to disappoint God. He desired the fruit of the forbidden tree and went ahead to eat it. And to date, billions of people still do not care about their Maker, unfortunately. But it was a risk that was worth it – God knew and allowed it for some reasons that we’ll see shortly.
This is different from what man tries to do with his own creation – man designs robots to follow instructions. Partly because we don’t have the ability to give conscience to things, but also because we want them to simply follow orders without questions; it’s just too much stress. So, just shut up and follow orders, right?
So, here are a few thoughts on the subject: the gift of thinking and the luxury of fantasy.
1. It shapes who you are because as a man thinks in his heart, so he will become.
Our sense organs are the doors and windows to our minds. They furnish the mind with the raw materials with which to build and decorate our future selves. These raw materials become our thoughts; we ruminate over them for days, weeks and even years. As we do, they gradually become part of us as we express them in our actions and way of perceiving & interpreting life events. We eventually become our thoughts. This is why it’s very important to be choosy when it comes to the signals we let into our minds via the sense organs of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
2. Thinking helps us organise our life and experiences.
Through thinking, we process our experiences and organise them in our minds. We also associate our experiences with specific places, sounds, odours, tastes, sights and feelings, and we’re able to recall these pieces of information any time similar situations present themselves.
3. Satan cannot stop it so he tries to corrupt it.
Our ability to think is unique and so powerful that satan can’t stand it. So, what he attempts to do is either to weaken it so it can be easily manipulated. This is what happens when the mind is idle. The notorious statement that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” comes from this. When our minds are weakened by life situations, we’re more prone to negative thoughts, so satan exploits such moments to infuse unhealthy thoughts into us.
Another way he tries to corrupt it is through overthinking; he makes us feel anxious about everything, exaggerate consequences and stress out about the minutest of things.
4. Evil men cannot kill it, so they try to lower its capacity, stifle and alter it.
In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela writes of the dark years in Robben Island “in prison, the only thing worse than bad news about one’s family is no news at all. It’s always harder to cope with the disasters and tragedies one imagines than with the reality, however grim or disagreeable. A letter with ill tidings was always preferable to no letter at all.” p.475
They can also use whatever type of media to feed us with things that ultimately define what we think, depriving us of this sweet liberty that we’ve been given to fantasizing, dream, aspire, to desire, to aim for the things that are solely true, solely honest, solely just, solely pure, solely lovely, solely of good report and solely virtuous.
5. The ability to fantasize keeps you hopeful.
As I heard the stories of doctors or saw their pictures in scrubs and crocs as a child, I’d always fantasize about operating on people’s brains, hearts and other organs. I thought of becoming a pilot, a speaker, a writer, a painter, a storyteller, a teacher, a minister, just name it. And as long as I could think of that, I didn’t mind getting up at 4/5 am to go to the river to fetch water or to the farmland and marketplace before going to school. For me It was all about the story of Urechokwe (without a silver spoon)- things will get better Chibii, just keep striving. Fantasies make you hopeful of better days ahead.
6. Thoughts, imaginations, fantasies are the motor for innovation and creativity.
Although several times we have deployed this gift for evil purposes, it must be said that the innovations we see today are products of fantasy, of thinking and imagination. We may call them innovators, great thinkers, dreamers, visionaries, scientists. But their discoveries were borne out of careful observation and deep thinking. Things like the fight for civil rights, going to the moon and now Mars, inventing therapeutics, the aeroplane, bandages, ear warmers etc. all came from critical thinking and desire to improve lives.
7. It brightens your internal organs even when hunger is biting.
I remember that as a young child, I would allow my fantasies to wander, to travel, to go to places where I’ve never seen nor heard of. As I read some books, I just enjoyed the freedom that fantasies allowed. Freedom from poverty and hunger; half stomach-filled but with bowels full of fantasies. I recall that growing up I’d often fantasize about things as little as bread and tea, hoping that Mom and Dad will get them when they come to visit in the village. But I also fantasised about becoming very rich, having so much money to help Mom and Dad, and taking care of millions of people in need. Wow! So many memories!.
8. A thinking man is free though he may be physically in jail.
In prison, our body is confined to a space but our thinking isn’t. What happens, however, is that your thoughts could be so messed up by that environment that it gets confined as well. You slowly reduce your thoughts to your physical confinement and that gets you trapped. Nelson Mandela in his book, Long Walk to Freedom, narrates how a poem kept him through his 27 years in prison. The poem is titled Invictus, written by William Ernest Henley. Check it out here.
9. Thinking keeps you alive.
Some inmates would tell you that what kept them alive while in jail was the thought of their spouse, children or family. The fantasy of eating those good foods and visiting all those beautiful places keep them alive through the rough years of imprisonment.
10. Thinking helps you rebel against injustice.
Thinking helps us rebel against satan, his demonic cohorts and men of corrupt minds in places of power. If we weren’t able to think for ourselves, we’d have been slaves to satan and his cohorts perpetually. But we’re able to think, to understand that freedom exists in Christ Jesus. So, we rebel against satan’s slavery and accept Christ’s freedom. We also rebel against devilish men in authority who desire to enslave us. We know that we deserve better and we can have better.
11. Thinking helps us to learn and unlearn, adapting to changes in our environment.
We learn to walk because we see others around us walking, we learn to talk because we see them talking, to mimic, bite and chew because we see others doing these. But also, because we think to ourselves, “if Mama can do it, then I can too. If Papa can do it, then I should give it a try.”
We also unlearn certain habits that aren’t good by carefully considering the negative impacts they’ve had on us. If we weren’t thinking we would have continued on the negative path or at best followed instincts as other animals do.
The coronavirus pandemic that broke out in 2020 has taught us so many lessons. Among them is the high adaptability of man; we learnt to wear masks for long hours, stay indoors for months, shut down most of the economic activities and school from home. These were all possible because we can think and come up with solutions.
The gift of thinking and the luxury of fantasy is given to us by our Creator, we should never forget that. Nor should we allow anyone to corrupt it. It is ours. Let’s use it for God’s glory.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8 KJV