inspiration—from Latin, inspiratio, “to blow into;” “to breathe in,” 1300s, literally, “[under] immediate influence of God.”
[WARNING: This post may get a bit Jesus-y…]
L ike everyone, my faith has been a long time in coming.
But I wanted to share the amazing discovery I got this week about inspiration. Editing projects have brought lots of fresh ideas and it’s been a busy blog week! I’m excited for what this next week will hold.
A daily email I subscribe to brought a prayer from Scottish pastor and theologian John Baillie, in A Diary of Private Prayer (1936):
…I will go nowhere this day where you cannot come,
nor court any companionship that would rob me of yours.
…I will let no thought enter my heart that might hinder my communion with you,
nor let any word come from my mouth that is not meant for your ear.
An excellent goal, but is it even possible? Could we go nowhere God is not, or never have him stolen from us? Could no thought or word come between us? Sounds about as possible as “rejoice always…pray continually…and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
But read it with the key words:
By Your grace, I will go nowhere…
By Your grace, O God, I will let no thought enter my heart…
Only by God’s grace–his undeserved favor and mercy to us—can we keep such promises. Striving in our own strength would break the prayer’s promise before we even started. My friend reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Realizing we’re at the mercy of God’s grace should make the prayer a bit less daunting, right?
In a way.
But it also creates uncertainty. How do we let his grace guide? If we don’t control our own lives, how do we give him control?
This is where I struggle, and I need to figure out how to know I have him and that he’s leading. Because if I don’t, I’ll go back to striving to make things happen myself. I know I’ll try to choose good and be good and do everything right, believing I can do it, on my own, indefinitely, which is basically the same thing as God leading.
I need to be guided in this freedom. But what exactly does that mean? I need instruction, some rules I can follow. Something I can understand.
But his permissive grace doesn’t work by a formula. We can’t remake the law because he broke the law to set us free. And now we have to learn not to strive to “do right”–that’s not what it takes to follow God—but to be still and let him be God and guide our steps for us.
I can see why friends have rejected it and others try so hard. Neither know what it means to start “by His grace.”
Can’t we get it? Can’t we look around us and see the most logical conclusion is that God must guide?
Here it is: As I thought about being Christian writers together, I know we all have our favorite theories about how the voice of God works, maybe our favorite writers, pastors or theologians who’ve helped us figure out how to hear God’s voice and trust it. But as writers, we’re also uniquely gifted with direct inspiration, hearing the spirit in our hearts and learning to listen as we stop resisting and still.
That’s how great stories get written. And it’s how great stories get lived out.
Too long I let people convince me I couldn’t trust my heart. The doubters and the strivers both believed this Christian thing required a lot of effort. They couldn’t all be wrong, could they?
Last week I realized the grace I need to guide me is already in me, infused with the core of me, and I don’t have to do anything because it’s the nature of grace to be unmerited and unearnable.
Grace is his offer of ever-present help to live it out. I dare you to ponder on that.
My amazing discovery was that my struggle ends when I finally, fully let it and realize I have his inspiration already. He’s shown what unity with God looks like: Jesus.
Him alone. And who is he? Grace incarnate. And what did he do? He called us out of our existing loyalties, and into his grace. Out of our feeble efforts, and not into striving for anything.
Can I believe it could be that easy? To believe his inspiratio, his breath is in me because he’s in me? Can I just accept it? Isn’t that the foundation of the gospel—accepting his free gift of grace to guide my life?
I think it may be so. And I think I’ll take it. Maybe I just needed to “come out of” some old Christian teachings to see it so clearly. Old ideas have to be discarded before we can see the process underway and appreciate it.
But as soon as I did, there he was. And I’m one more step toward a faith of my own, directly from God.
With no rules to follow there’s nothing to fight. That’s free grace: the chance to finally stop resisting it.
Come, inspiration come.
“The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”