What truly inspires you? This week I learned that the way we think about and use the word “inspire” has been substantially watered down from its original meaning. Culturally we have lost the original depth of meaning as we have come to use it in a more casual sense: “to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” However, the word “inspire” originally referred to “a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone'” Do you see the difference? “Inspired” in its original sense was what I call a Royal Word*, it was a word that was to be used exclusively with reference to God.
It is sad that we have lost the connection of inspiration with God as a divine being. Even so, I was grateful to receive Romanian-born Cristian Mihai’s post on “Inspiration” yesterday. Mihai’s blog addresses struggles that are common to writers as well as insights into the mechanics of writing. Although written from a secular perspective for writers I was encouraged by his insight into the mysterious power of inspiration:
“Out of all the aspects of writing I’m most amazed by the simple power the moments of true inspiration hold. You know, those moments when a story starts growing out of thin air — and grows and grows, and it feels as if you’re just observing, you’re just allowed a bit of insight into a new universe.”
He is right to be “amazed by the simple power the moments of true inspiration hold” and so should you and I. I was touched by his reference to the supernatural in being “allowed a bit of insight into a new universe.”
Inspiration is a rare gift that can redirect, convict, affirm and encourage the human heart and mind. I read recently about the practice of “harvesting” water in Peru. where rain is rare but fog or mist comes through. People hang out cloths, not to dry but to capture the moisture in the air. They then wring out the cloth to “harvest” the water. Inspiration can be every bit as precious!
When I think about the mystery and power of inspiration, the words of the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 3: 16-17 fill my mind:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The thought of the Bible being, “the inspired word of God” explodes beyond the universe with the realization that all Scripture is out-spired, the very breath of God! Many years ago I purchased an amazing little book titled, Words to Die For. Written by Lawrence Kimbrough, it is a fascinating compilation of thirty verses of Scripture that inspired ordinary people such as Clara Barton, Jim Elliot, and William Wilberforce to powerfully impact the lives of others.
It can be a wonderful thing to be inspired! However, we do need to be careful and prayerful as to the source of what inspires us, because not all inspiration from out of this world is good. The beauty of exploring the Scripture, is that because it is the very breath of God we can discover inspiration that takes ourselves out of the center of things. We are then freed to see the world as God sees it.
How are we to determine whether our inspiration is good or bad? By reflecting on God’s standard: Will what inspires us honor Him? Will it reflect love for our neighbor?
All to His Glory!
*When our children were still at home, we called certain words Royal because we did not want to diminish their power. “Hate” and “love” were deemed Royal Words. The Bible tells us to “hate what is evil and to cling (love) what is good” (Romans 12:9) so we sought to use such words appropriately. Therefore, we did not “love” or “hate” brussel sprouts in our home. We used other words to express our thinking about them! ( :