IF YOU’RE LISTENING, I’ll tell you how God’s Spirit talks to me sometimes when I’m writing.
He sometimes gives me words and phrases and sentences from out of the blue. Words I never would have considered. They just pop into my head. Someone’s doing the popping, and it’s not me. At least it doesn’t feel like me.
So until some neurologist can convince me otherwise, I’m going to give God the credit. And even if a neurologist could explain the process, I’m giving God credit for the brain.
Here’s what happened yesterday
I’ve been writing a leader’s guide for the Casual English Bible paraphrase of Revelation. It’s the hardest leader’s guide I’ve had to tackle so far.
It’s not easy trying to make sense of 144,000 virgins standing with Jesus on the Jerusalem hilltop. These are guy virgins, as far as I can tell. And they may be spiritual virgins as opposed to, well, you know. The scene shows up in Revelation 14, if you want to look it up.
Whoever these 144,000 are, they sing what John, the author of Revelation, says is “a new song.”
“They were singing it in a big way right there in front of God’s throne, the four living beings, and the 24 leaders. The only ones who could learn the song were the 144,000. They were rescued from locations all over the world” (Revelation 14:3 Casual English Bible).
What was the new song?
I thought about the new song and I imagined Paul Simon reworking “Loves Me Like a Rock.” But that wouldn’t be new. If a song were a tire, that would be a retread.
Also, why were the 144,000 the only ones who could learn how to sing it? Did it involve yodeling?
In the leader’s guide, I was trying to present some of the guesses that scholars provide. Educated guesses are the best anyone has to offer.
One guess is that this was the song of salvation that only humans could understand because they are the ones Jesus saved. Angels couldn’t sing it because they never needed saving.
As I sat there thinking about that, not trying to come up with anything beyond that, a sentence popped into my head:
“Only the lost know the joy of being found.”
Warmth filled my eyes. Not just because of the truth of those words, but because of how effortlessly those words came to me. They came through no effort on my part, as far as I can tell.
The effort was that of Someone else. It was the work of Whomever dropped the string of words into my head to brighten my afternoon.
This is one of the reasons I have loved spending my life as a writer. I get surprises like that now and again.
Sometimes I feel a little like I would imagine the prophets felt on their good days, when they delivered God’s words and people didn’t drop them into a cistern.
By the way, I put quotes around that surprise sentence and googled it to see if perhaps I had read the sentence elsewhere, and my brain had simply pushed the memory to the front of my head somehow. I found the idea, but not that string of words.
The string might be out there somewhere else. It probably is. And I may have read it somewhere. That’s okay with me. Either way, it’s pretty amazing how God finds ways to talk to us without a decibel.
Artists commonly use spiritual terms to describe the creative process. In fact, the word “inspiration” has its roots in the word “spirit”. And the act of creating a visual, musical or verbal work often stirs feelings of ecstasy.
I’ve no doubt God breathes life into all of our work if we allow it. Not just artists but engineers, construction works, scientists and doctors. All of us.
But you are deep in a spiritual adventure, Steve. This personal paraphrase of the Bible opens your heart wide to inspiration. I’ve no doubt you are hearing God’s voice daily.
Stephen M. Miller
I never connected the word “inspiration” with “spirit.” Inspired observation. Thanks, Steve
Your words are an In-spirit-ation to me. Thank you and blessings….