If I were living in America during the 1940s and ’50s and mentioned Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Our Miss Brooks or You Bet Your Life, people would perk up and start discussing the latest episode with excited fervor. Today, I get blank stares.
Ever since I was little, I have loved to go to bed, clean the house or run while listening to these nostalgic radio shows of yester year. I know, I’m weird.
Though I enjoy listening to music and watching black and white movies—I told you, I’m weird—nothing passes the time while driving on long road trips or scrubbing the toilet than engaging your brain in another time and place.
The adventures of Johnny Dollar, an insurance investigator who often finds himself unearthing a robbery or murder scene, keep me intrigued and baffled as I try to solve the mystery in my own mind.
I chuckle as I listen to the sticky situations of Miss Brooks, the fictitious Madison High English teacher. Whether she rips her skirt on her desk or inadvertently writes a love note to her less-than-lovable principal, Miss Brooks somehow manages to keep sane amid the many mini-tragedies she comes across on a regular basis.
And you never knew what you were going to hear from either the contestants or the uninhibited host, Groucho Marx, on the game show You Bet Your Life. Every week the listening—and later watching—audience would meet unique, yet everyday individuals living amidst the populace of America.
While listening to these old-time radio shows, my imagination reaches a peak. I can see in my mind the speaker’s description of waves lapping on the beach, the dusty, cramped classroom, the dubious kidnapper or awkward adolescent. Sometimes, I even feel like I’m watching a scene from a movie—the characters and setting become so vivid in my mind.
Probably, the majority of my generation and younger have never heard of the shows I’ve mentioned. But I’m guessing that most, if not all, BJU students and grads have heard of Patch the Pirate or Adventures in Odyssey. Though these “kid” programs are tucked away in our younger days, I hope we haven’t also cast away a valuable gift every human being possesses.
Something happens when we get older. As we grow out of childhood, we also seem to grow out of our imagination. No longer do we have imaginary friends, or at least I hope not, nor do we run around playing cops and robbers.
Nevertheless, imagination should not be cast aside as a thing of our youth. Our imagination is a gift from God. However, as life on this earth is marred from the fall, so is man’s imagination. We should guard the thoughts and imaginations of our mind and strive to make them conform to the standard of Philippians 4:8: think on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, commendable and worthy of praise.
But, while aligning with God’s Word, we can use our imaginations to picture what Christ and the authors of both the Old and New Testaments describe. Stop and think for a second. What was it like for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea with gigantic walls of water reaching high beside their path? Can you hear the sound of the horns and cries of the Israelites as the mighty wall of Jericho crashes to the ground? What do you see as the gospel writers describe the death, resurrection and ascension of our Savior? Can you see the streets of gold, the pearly gates or the magnificent splendor of our Lord?
To this last question, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9 that no one could ever imagine all that God has for us in this life and in eternity. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
The imagination of man is a precious gift—one we shouldn’t waste. I love to sharpen my imaginary skills by listening to the radio comedians and detectives of the ’40s and ’50s. But true joy comes when I imagine what my home will be like one day and that first moment when I meet my Savior face to face.