GOD GETS INTO MY HEAD somehow, from time to time.
I don’t know how he gets the idea in there. All I know is that it feels a bit like an intrusion.
One moment it’s not there. The next moment it’s there. And it’s big. It consumes my thinking in those initial moments. I can’t focus much on anything else that’s going on around me. I’m stuck on that idea.
The apostle Paul described the experience as well as any, I think. He said Jesus “has grabbed me and won’t let me go,” (Philippians 3:12).
Paul was talking about how Jesus directed his entire life and ministry.
I’ve got that going on, too – a spiritual journey toward heaven. But along the way I get these occasional ideas that seem good and godly – but are sometimes doggone risky.
Let me give you examples of ideas that felt like they got dumped into my head.
Cash for the church
Perhaps the idea that felt the dumbest and most unprofessional was the idea that hit me during a capital campaign to raise money for a church building. Our congregation was meeting in a public school building at the time. The idea was to contribute the first hunk of money I got from an advance for an upcoming book I would be writing.
The unprofessional part of the idea was to contact the publisher and ask that the company match that amount. I sent an email to the publisher as soon as I got home from church. Within five minutes, the publisher and I had managed to double the amount of money going to my church. (Note to publishers current and future: As I approach another capital campaign, I am asking God not to give me that idea again. It hurt my head too much.)
Love letter to my family
During a recent series of sermons about the power that words have to help or hurt people, an idea suddenly appeared inside my head: write an open letter to my family telling them what it is about them that I love. You can read a little about that in a recent blog post, “How to buy a compliment for $700.”
I was afraid of how my family would react. I thought they would think I needed medication to level out my abundant emotion. Instead, my wife said the letter was sweet. And she said it with a tiny supernova burst of joy on her face. My daughter said it made her teary. Her husband thanked me for things I have done to help them during this first year of their marriage. My son called to ask me what the heck was going on. He wanted to know what provoked the letter. He’s a lot like me.
Love letters to a friend
During that same sermon in which I got the idea poured into my head to write the love letter to my family, I thought about a friend of mine who has had a tough summer. And, at times, he has had a difficult life, with family, friends, and teachers telling him nasty things: “You’ll never amount to anything.” And other lousy stuff like that.
So I had a bunch of friends write letters of appreciation to him, reminding him of what he has done to help us along our journey; and he has done a lot for a lot of people.
During 45 minutes of a one-hour Bible study, we read those letters aloud to him. And we did it documentary style, with soft music in the background. My goodness, that music sure makes a big difference in the Spirit of the place. We worked two boxes of tissues. It was emotionally draining for everyone. No dry eyes.
That whole event could’ve gone sour and two ways to sideways on Sunday.
But it didn’t.
Am I a mystic?
Help me out here. Reassure me that I am not a mystic, and that God pours ideas in your head, too.
Do you get ideas that feel like inner impressions that come from Somewhere Else? I’m talking about ideas to do good and godly things – sometimes stuff that takes us outside our comfort zone.
I know we get a lot of rotten, stinking ideas in our head. But the ideas I’m talking about feel extraordinarily different. They grab hold of us. They hang on. And they nag at us, “Get ‘er done.”
I have found that if I ignore the idea long enough, it goes away – like a bug bite.
I have also found that if I bring the idea to life, I’m usually glad I did.
Sometimes the idea goes sour and two ways to sideways.
I figure that in those cases, even if the idea came from heaven, I’m only human.
After that Bible study when we read letters of appreciation to my friend, I found myself sitting beside him in the worship service that followed.
As the music began, I leaned over to him and said, “I hope I don’t get any ideas in this service. I’m exhausted.”
PS. I just got permission from the person who wrote my favorite letter of encouragement to my friend to let you read it. Look for it in Friday’s blog article. You’re going to love it. I’ll even give you a link to the background music we played, so you can read it the way we did.