Wednesday 3 May 2017


In February, I attended a one day course at the NSW Writers’ Centre entitled ‘Remembering Your Creativity’, run by Sue Woolfe. I had not had the luxury of being a writer for a whole day for quite a while and revelled in it all. Sue began by taking us back to our childhood and the creative things we did then. That set the tone for the various writing exercises that followed, when we were encouraged to write freely and let our imaginations run wild, just as we did as children.

What a gift our imaginations are to us as writers—and also as readers! Once we close off the more reasoning part of our brain and let ourselves step over the threshold into that wonderful world of our creative imagination, we can experience all sorts of other worlds and events firsthand, so to speak. And once we choose to let ourselves write that way, we can open the door for others to take their own journeys of discovering more about the world around them, about themselves—and perhaps even about God.

I have also found my God-given imagination so valuable in reading Scripture—in particular, the Gospel narratives. Recently, I have been reading through John’s Gospel again. Now we are in the middle of selling our home, so there are lots of extra jobs to do and big decisions to make. Yet I wanted to stay focussed on God, as Easter approached, even though the first of our ‘open house’ days was looming. And that’s when I became so thankful for my God-given imagination once again and for the many opportunities I have had, in writing my novels and non-fiction, to exercise it.

You see, as I read John 13, without much conscious effort, I found myself right in that upper room with Jesus as he washed the disciples’ feet. I almost felt the water pouring over my own and the rough fabric of the towel, as Jesus dried them. I heard Peter’s panic, as he objected to joining in. In verse 21, I felt Jesus’ pain and was moved by the sadness in his voice when he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me. In John 18, I sensed Peter’s deep shame, that moment those words of denial left his lips and the rooster crowed. In John 19, I imagined how Jesus’ mother must have felt when her dying Son spoke so tenderly to her from the cross, ‘Dear woman, here is your son’, and to the other disciple present, ‘Here is your mother.’ And in John 20, I revelled in Mary’s joy, as she heard the man she assumed was the gardener speak her name and realised it was the Lord. What an amazing moment! And what a privilege it was to be able to imagine myself there and to know God’s Spirit was somehow part of the whole process as well.

So today as you read, I wonder if you too can revel in that God-given imagination of yours again, just as you did as a child. And as you write, may you lose sight of yourself in the whole process and create with joy, aware that God’s own creative Spirit is working in and through you, bringing those words to life.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and two non-fiction works, ‘Soul Friend’ and ‘Becoming Me’. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit


  1. Thanks for the reminder of the great gift of our imagination, Jo-Anne, and also a reminder that we must take time to allow God to work in and through this gift. That is often where I fall down - taking the time. This is something I have to constantly come back to.

    1. I'm sure you're not alone, Carol, in this ongoing struggle to take time in our lives to let those images emerge, to reflect, to listen to that whisper of God that can inspire our writing or motivate us to act. We're so prone to jumping in and doing things in our own strength, aren't we?


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