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Playing Pretend

“Activate creature powers!” Simeon screamed, as I played with him for over an hour, pretending to turn into different animals while wearing an imaginary creature power suit. He had picked all this up from a show called Wild Kratts, which attempts to teach children about animals by the main characters ability to use different ‘powers’ of different animals as they are needed.

Kids love to pretend. Playing with my pastor’s son Simeon over the past couple years, I have been an angry bird, a jedi, a member of the empire, and about every animal imaginable. Sometimes I’m the good guy, and we work together. Sometimes I’m the bad guy, and he must vanquish me.

I was a pretender too. I loved dribbling my basketball, counting down from five seconds, and hearing Chick Hearn’s voice in my head as I shook off an imaginary defender to shoot the ball at the buzzer for the win.

Today, I was reading William Law’s Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. He told people to use their imaginations in prayers. While calling people to sing the psalms in their personal prayers, he told people to imagine themselves singing with Christ, or joining David in the Psalm, or to picture the people around the throne of God heaping praises on Him.

He asked us to pretend. He asked us to use our imaginations. And, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to believe that we are made to pretend. There is a reason that kids love to pretend. Kids love to pretend because God made people for the transcendent. Do you hear that? He made you for the transcendent. That is why you pretended as a kid. That is why many people live fantasy lives as adults, spending all day playing video games, shopping with credit they’ll never afford to pay back, looking at pornography, trying way too hard to win stupid games, and social networking, where they have complete control over the person they put out to the world. They were made for something transcendent, and when that need goes unmet, it plays out in all sorts of destructive ways. But all these destructive things are signs that people were really made to pretend.

Yes, I believe God made us to pretend. And that is because the reality of our lives is beyond whatever we could dream up. We pretend because we need the practice. We need to practice playing make believe because reality is so far beyond our wildest imagination that we need to awaken that part of our brain.

We pretend because reality is so unbelievable.

In reality we are one with Christ. In reality we are joined with his body, the Church worldwide. In reality when a Christian is alone saying his prayers, he is entering into union with the Godhead, as the Spirit empowers him to offer prayers to the Father through Jesus Christ. In reality the heavens are opening up during a woman’s praises, and she is heaping praises on the throne of God with all the saints, martyrs, apostles, prophets, and angels. In reality, when we gather for the Lord’s Table, we are communing with the risen Lord, partaking in the very life of Christ, and proclaiming to the world that he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

All this is really happening. So, we needed practice as kids. We needed to learn to think transcendent thoughts. We needed to practice, because what is really happening is so far beyond our wildest imagination that it makes me pretending to be Magic Johnson downright small in comparison.

Think transcendent thoughts. You were made for them.



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