Tuesday, June 29, 2004

What If We Asked the Imagineers' Question? (Column Version)

[Below is the version of the third of my Walt Disney World reflections submitted for my column, appearing in the Community Press newspapers in the Cincinnati area.]

When looking for better ways of doing things, what’s the question we can ask that will unlock our creativity?

How about when we’re confronted with a nettlesome problem?

I recently leafed through a book produced by the Walt Disney company’s “imagineers.” The imagineers are that creative band of Disney folks who spawn a seemingly endless array of innovative animation techniques, intriguing theme park attractions, and fetching resort motifs.

One chapter said that the key question imagineers ask is, “What if...?”

As I read that, I reflected that every positive event in history probably started by asking that question.

Galileo must have asked, “What if my observations are true, that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around?”

The Wright Brothers probably asked, “What if a wing with the shape of a teardrop will give a flying machine the lift it needs to take flight?”

Martin Luther must have asked, “What if the Church is wrong and the Bible is right, that human beings don’t have to earn or buy an everlasting relationship with God? What if a relationship with God comes to human beings as the Bible says it does, as a gift to us when we turn from sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness and life?”

What if, in our daily lives, we asked that question more often?

What if the married couple stuck in a stalemate of mutual inattentiveness and resentment asked, “What if we wanted to make our marriage what God intended it to be? What would it take?”

What if parents, aware of how little time they spend with their kids and of the need to provide guidance for living to their children began to ask, “What if I wanted to become a “Cliff and Claire Huxtable, Ward and June Cleaver” kind of parent? How would we do that?”

The problem with asking “What if...?” is this: It gets our creative juices going. It impels us to move from dreaming to doing, just as it does Disney’s imagineers. That’s why we rarely ask the question. It’s a fearful thing to set sail against the winds of convention, common practice, and habit.

For the follower of Jesus Christ, it seems to me that failing to ask “What if...?” is a sin. God wants us to use our brains to improve life for ourselves and for others. In Genesis, God tells the human race:

“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of the Earth!” (Genesis 1:26-27, The Message translation)

This isn’t a license to lives spent in comfortable ruts.

It’s a mandate to ask, “What if...” and to see and enact new possibilities. In fact, it’s a mandate to see and enact what others might deem impossible.

Jesus says that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). He also says that when we ask in His Name, He can make good things happen (John 14:13). We simply need to ask, “What if...?” and enlist the help of God. To God, impossibilities are mere impediments.

Every human being has a call to be an imagineer of the spirit! What if we all asked God to help us become our best and most positively achieving selves? The possibilities are endless!

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