As a writer I have found inspiration just about everywhere. As I walk through life, events, incidents, people, places, dreams, all spark the creative urge to write. I don’t write to chronicle events, rather I write stories. I find them more satisfying and — it seems to me — stories written well have more of an impact upon the reader to convey feelings and complex interactions between people. Probably, the one most crucial factor that catalyzed my desire to write was my Mother. My Mother was the one that instilled a passion for reading. This in turn birthed the urge to write. A publisher’s representative once made a comment to me that I seemed to be well read and that it was reflected in my writing. I would have to agree with that. All writers that work at their craft — like musicians — are influenced by the writers that came before us and that we enjoyed reading.
This is not, however, about writing in general. But, about the one source of inspiration that guides my writing. The Holy Spirit, and a particular encounter with Him in the wee hours of the morning.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, lots of things in life trigger ideas for stories. I think if I tried hard enough, I could imagine a story out of just about anything, regardless of how mundane. At times I make a game out of imagining — postulating — a story line from something completely ordinary. Building a world around a complete stranger standing in line at the supermarket, just because they look unique. Sometimes I get myself in trouble doing that, as I tend to get lost in those thoughts and my wife often has to nudge me to get me to come back to the world my feet are actually planted in.
The stories The Holy Spirit brings are much better and definitely not mundane. His imagination dwarfs mine. So when I am half awake in the mornings — the time He likes to share His ideas the most — I have learned to pay attention and write down what He gives me. So I have learned to depend upon Him for ideas. Most of what I have blogged recently has come from Him. I am not afraid to admit that I am in some ways taking dictation, rather than creating something completely new. I don’t consider it plagiarism as He is giving it freely to me. In fact, I think He would be disappointed if I didn’t write down what He was sharing with me. Of course much of what He gives me, He expects that I will use my own imagination to illustrate and amplify what He is showing me so that others will be inspired. It’s how He has gifted me.
But, sometimes the morning visits are not about the writing. Sometimes it’s just about His Presence.
Monday May 6th 2013 dusk, I was talking with a friend about writing. She felt as though The Lord was calling her to write down the things He was giving her. So I told her to talk to Him before going to sleep and give Him permission to wake her in the night to talk. Since, this is often when The Lord wakes me to talk, I thought it might be a time He could connect with her.
So it was natural later that night, as I prepared to go to sleep, to do the same. So I told The Lord — I invited Him — to wake me if He wanted. And, I added; “I won’t complain”. This part was important to me, because in the past when God has awakened me, I would complain about missing my sleep. “Seriously!?! Can’t we do this in the morning Lord!?!” I would whine. So it was important to me to make sure He understood that I wouldn’t complain this time.
Tuesday Morning May 7th 2:57AM; I felt the familiar nudge to wake up. So I woke up and asked Him what He wanted to talk about? Did He have something for me to write? Was there something important that He wanted me to understand?
“Okay Lord, then I’ll just pray”. So I took a few minutes to pray and tell HIm how much I Love Him. I was fully awake. So I sat on the edge of my bed and continued to pray for a couple of minutes and eventually ended up standing next to my bed with my arms reaching to the ceiling in worship.
That was when The Holy Spirit overshadowed me. It is not easy to describe the feeling of being overshadowed. The emotions are fully engaged and aware of every physical sensation. I know what it is like to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized in The Spirit is a joyous thing. But, this was different. The Power of the Holy Spirit was not so much emphasized as was His Presence.
I had not turned on the lights in the room and the moon was not up. So it was very dark and quite cold. I was standing there in the middle of my room in my underwear, but I was not uncomfortable. I only felt a warm and comforting peace that lifted the weight off of my feet. Almost as if I were not standing on the floor. The Peace was profoundly intimate and passionate, but not in a physical sense. It was a basic primal familiarity that comes between A Creator and His Creation. It was as basic as that.
He did not say anything. I didn’t see visions or images of any kind. I just stood there and was enthralled, captivated, overshadowed, breathless, between laughing and crying at the same time. It seemed to be the essence of falling in love for the first time exponentially magnified.
When I lowered my arms the glowing arms of the clock said 3:47 AM.
I sat back down on the bed and basked in His Presence. I was wrapped up in Him.
Eventually, I went back to sleep. I got up to prepare for work, remembering what had happened just a few hours before. I wondered, “Do I write this one down”. What did it mean?
I know what it meant. It meant that He was with me. Simple, uncomplicated and unpretentious. The only important thing about that morning was His Presence. He just wanted to be with me. No other purpose. Just to be together.
It reminded me of the following verse in Exodus chapter 33.
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
To set this in the proper perspective, I want you the reader to understand what I have come to understand. There is no heavy theological explanation for this. From what I can tell, God just wanted to be with me. His Presence was profoundly alive in my room. I am not anything special because of this. The sense I received is that this was something He desires for all of His Children. And, in discussing this with my pastor and friend Larry Lane, we agreed that the key to all of this was the willingness — the invitation — for God to interrupt my sleep. To inject Himself into my life.
I had a very clear thought related to Exodus 33: 14 & 15. I could understand why Moses said that. Once you stand overshadowed by His Presence, everything else seems to dim. The cares of life no longer matter. If He is with you all else in life gains it’s proper perspective. No matter what you are going through in life. When He comes and fills you, overwhelms your being, touches the most central part of your heart with His Presence, life in this world trapped in the bubble of time, is revealed for what it is — transitory. He is the reality of life. His Presence sets all things in order. It is no wonder that Moses, favored by The Presence of The Almighty, would understand that life without His Presence is dicey at best, but amazingly victorious with it. It made no sense to Moses to proceed unless The Presence went with him.
Again, the key to this was the willingness to be interrupted. To allow Him to step in to the room whenever and wherever so that He can just be there with us. Are we willing to set aside our plans, our daily routines, our friendships, our wounding’s, our needs, to make time for Him? I will never be the same after Tuesday morning. I realize I am now spoiled. It would be great to spend all my day standing in His Presence filled with that Peace. But, I know my job is to paint this picture. To describe His eagerness to desire my presence. That is the other side of this coin. In the midst of all of this, I realized that as much as I wanted to be overshadowed by Him. His desire for me was far greater.
Oh what an incredible gift we have in Him.
I exhort you. Evaluate your day. Find time to invite Him to surprise you. Invite Him to interrupt you no matter where that might be. Maybe He will share a funny story with you, or illuminate His Word from the Bible with His unique perspective, or maybe He will just sit there and be with you.