Donald L. Hughes
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Should Christian writers wait for inspiration? No, not normally. “Waiting” tends to kill creativity and it is a barrier to completing work that God has called us to do.
The idea that we should wait for outside inspiration also reflects a misunderstanding of our fantastic God-given brains, the human cognitive process, and the writing enterprise.
Blame the Greeks
Why do so many writers think they must wait for inspiration?
Well, we can probably blame the Greeks for that. They had strange religious beliefs and many Christian writers have tapped into them.
The Greeks had an Oracle in Delphi and there was a crack in the floor. Some say the crack emitted vapors from the crevice of a deep volcano. Others say that the vapors came from a decaying python. That’s right, a decaying snake.
Anyway, people would come to ask questions of the gods. Young women sat in chairs over the crack and sniffed the vapors. That put them into a trance where they talked in gibberish.
There were some priests of Delphi around who would gladly translate the gibberish for a fee.
The entire fate of the Greek nation in that era and the lives of all the individuals in the land were dictated by snake vapor, gibberish, and some highly paid interpreters.
Another Excuse for Not Writing
What does all this have to do with writing?
The concept was translated into the creative realm. The Greeks imagined this group of women, called the Muses, and they spoke to artists, sculptors, writers and other creative people.
So, if an artist was being indolent, he or she could just say they were, “Waiting for the Muse.”
Writers still use that con today. It’s interchangeable with that creative hypochondria known as, “Writer’s block.”
Christians writers should not fall into the trap of “Waiting for inspiration.” There is no Muse, and no one is going to come and whisper ideas in your ear.
What About the Holy Spirit?
Some Christian writers may say, “Isn’t the Holy Spirit our Muse?”
The simple answer is, “No.” The New Testament teaches that the Holy Spirit is not outside of us, like a Muse. The key is Philippians 2:13. In that verse, Paul reminds us that God works in Christians, and the result of that work is action that fulfills God’s purposes.
The Holy Spirit is inside us. That is an essential difference between Christian writers and all others. We do not need to rely on outside voices for our message. We have the ultimate inner resource. 1 Corinthians 6:19 is very important to Christian writers seeking inspiration because it identifies our bodies, which includes our minds, as the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.
Many Christian writers place the Holy Spirit outside of themselves in life and in writing. Yet, the Holy Spirit is not external. As the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 1:27, your hope of glory is rooted in the reality that Christ is in you.
What does that mean for Christian writers? It means you do not have to wait for the words to write from some outside source. The words are already within you. Your job is to write them.
Creator or Scribe?
This poses an interesting question. Can and should Christian writers just “take dictation” of what they think God wants them to write, or are they free to use their own ideas, training, and experience in their work?
There are some Christians who believe that all the writers of the New Testament merely took dictation about what God wanted them to write. That may be true in some general sense, but it’s not true at all in the specific sense. The New Testament writers conveyed God’s message, but they used their own training and experiences to do it. We are told what the great heroes of the Bible thought and felt and the actions they took and the resulting reactions. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 21 of them are letters (epistles) written to address real-life situations that people were facing.
Therefore, if we are going to follow a biblical model, we can see that we are not to be scribes who just take dictation. The Holy Spirit is not like a Muse that whispers the words we write. The Holy Spirit illuminates us and ignites our creativity. The Holy Spirit is God within us, flooding our mind with ideas and encouraging us to complete the manuscript we have started.
The Holy Spirit is in Our Neurons Too
Some Christians are not big fans of science. Science has been abused by many scientists and others, so that’s understandable. However, we need to have a wider view of science, in my opinion. Science is nothing more than a study of the limitless intricacies of creation. And God is the creator.
So, science, properly done, should fascinate all Christians. When we understand how the universe works, including the human body, we get insight into the majesty of God.
That’s why it’s important to know how our brains work. God created our brains and the Holy Spirit uses it to stimulate our interaction with our world.
Creativity comes from synaptic flashes in the brain. Cells which contain information connect with other cells through synaptic networks. That is the cognitive process that enables us to write. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
So, the inspiration we need as Christian writers is within us. We just need to access it.
Our God-created bodies being what they are, we can stimulate your brain activity in many ways. Most of us use coffee, but you can get lots of inspiration from reading and conversations with others. We can get it through daily experiences or through special ones, like travel.
The best way to stimulate the Holy Spirit within us is through prayer. The writing is always better when we connect with God before we start putting words on the page. He will trigger more synaptic flashes than we can handle. Writing ceases to be a dry, difficult process when God opens the floodgates of creativity.
Don’t Wait for Inspiration
What’s the key idea? Don’t stall, waiting for the Muse to speak to you. You already have inspiration within you. You don’t need to wait for some external entity to talk into your ear.
Put your own synaptic network, your own brain, to work and mine the gold that is already there. If you are “in Christ” (Romans 8:1), you already have the mind of Christ within you (1 Corinthians 2:16). Be conscious of that and use the reality of God’s inner presence as your primary source of writing inspiration.
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