The gift of writing is a God-ordained task, and this is its challenge: To choose perfect words, to place them in precise order, and to conclude each piece with an epiphany that will change someone’s life. For the believer, there is an extra burden of responsibility: With the help of the Holy Spirit, to facilitate eternal change within the heart of the reader.
The story stream that I seek, when I sit down to write, springs from many sources: The white hot embers of inspiration, the hard work of research and practice, rumination of thought, humble submission to a rigorous editing process beyond self, and rich life experiences.
But… At some point, all of these have failed me.
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme
I address my verses to the king;
My tongue is the pen of a ready scribe
Worship is the key that unlocks the treasure chest of words, stories, and great epiphanies. As I lavish praise upon my Creator, Redeemer God, the well within is primed and soon the fountain bubbles over. The story stream begins with a spark from a place of intimacy with the Lord, but the illumination is still abstract and needs flesh and bones. Then my thoughts must be forced into clarity, which is sometimes easy and sometimes hard, and is vastly more important than the pound of creativity for which I long for and wait.
It’s like molding clay. The creative bent that makes the piece unique comes as I press the clay into my hands and against the table, beating, pushing, smoothing, tearing off pieces… until a creative and useful piece develops through the process.
Creativity grows and intensifies as I labor — fleshing out the heavenly spark. Although I want a download of glistening inspiration at the beginning, rarely does it happen that way. I work through until reaching the end, and then realize I have been drinking from the pool of originality throughout the whole journey.
But back to worship, the foundation of all creativity: I have encountered the sweetest times waiting on God for a word or the next word and the next word… An inspired sentence or two may develop during or after worship, and then I may become compelled to stop and worship with my lips again. Sometimes a word is given or a few, and I am overcome with tears and must stop to lavish adoration and praise upon the One who loved me first.
There are plenty of times when I don’t have the luxury of taking long to worship, as I need or want. Multiple tasks and deadlines cause me to plummet the depths of my own cistern of reflections and musings for quick retrieval. This is why worship should be a lifestyle and not a single act. Writers must live it and not participate in the act of worship for projects. Even with this sometimes, I come up short only to cry out for help; and the Holy Spirit aids me as I press on to the end of my project.
The Tenach as well as the New Covenant speaks of the power of life and death residing within the tongue or the heart and soul of the speaker—for the tongue is only a reflection of the heart and soul. As believers, we are admonished from scripture that the issues or the very substance of life itself flows from the heart. That is why we must take great care in guarding our hearts, lest they become infected or deceived by the soul-sick society around us.
The tongue speaks from the heart, and the pen writes from the heart. The tongue and the pen are the same.
There can also be a fountain of sweet and bitter waters within the heart. This is evident as I listen to my speech or if I reread pieces penned years ago. I can taste the bitterness and the sweetness. God is purifying, and it is a process.
Both the disciples of Moses and Yeshua are strongly encouraged daily to “Choose LIFE.” Word choices bring life or death—blessings or curses—to those around us through the gateway of speech or the written word.
Through the process of writing, I have come to depend on inspiration slightly—like exercise, “it profits a little.” The illumination of its spark grows dimer and dimmer the longer I camp around it, waiting for more inspiration to finish the task. The great weight bearer in maintaining an unction for writing is the act of worship, coupled with the intensive labor with the art itself, that of writing and rewriting, then writing some more…
As I worship to write, I keep yielding my tongue to God, making myself fall in the shadow of His cross. Miraculously the pen begins to illuminate His face and heart, to etch in graphic detail His hands and feet. The words begin to shine… to pierce… to heal.
Writing is an act of worship. It’s choosing perfect words and placing them in precise order. It’s downloading and concentrating life’s epiphanies to a microchip of influence. The purpose of taking pen in hand is to illuminate the face and heart of God; and the result is to aid humankind in the process of being changed into His likeness.
I can’t write unless I am inspired by nothing less than Him — not my ideas or creativity or thought process or experience. Him.