“Where did that come from?”
It’s good news – and I absolutely believe this – that Christian writers, artists, and musicians who dedicate their spiritual gifts to the glory of God will have their creativity miraculously bolstered by divine intervention. When a good praise leader steps up to the mike and admits, “Folks, the Lord gave me this song,” I accept that as established truth. God is an amazingly accomplished composer and collaborator!
The best way to nurture the miracle, certainly, is to diligently protect and strengthen the relationship. Feed in the garden of Bible study and Christian classics. Pray. If you’re a composer, listen to the grand musical ideas God is expressing through your peers. Artists, go walk along a lake; pause to witness God’s spectacular sunsets and the innocent play of his children. Authors will find God speaking to them through a growing familiarity with Psalms and scripture promises.
Shannen Fields and I have been working our way through a trilogy of Christian fiction stories set in my childhood home of Thailand. We hope the books get published and sell a lot of copies . . . and, okay, bring in a few royalty dollars. But that wasn’t our motivation; we simply like to craft well-told and colorful adventures and make a life of serving Jesus appear winsome and workable. Often in my daily prayers, I flat-out say: “Lord, these are your stories. Please help shape them. Guide our minds and bring us fresh ideas.” And every now and again . . . wow!
Often a new idea is simply and suddenly there. Or I lay in bed, waiting to fall asleep, and possible upcoming scenes simply bounce into view. So keep a pencil on the nightstand. Other times I’ll be writing, punching the keys, and abruptly I stare at the screen and see that a really nice plot twist or effective metaphor is already blinking in front of me, black letters on the white backdrop . . . and I really did not consciously think my way through the process. God just pure and simple made himself my unseen writing partner. I got to the end of a story once and gave a satisfied sigh, commenting to Lisa: “I don’t know quite how, but this is a better story than I could have thought of by myself.” (She didn’t disagree.)
Not long ago I was penning a final-chapter wedding scene where Sue, the bride, survived a long and cancer-ridden saga with the petulant son of her fiancé – now converted and baptized in a Bangkok hotel swimming pool. I sat down to verbally color in the spaces: the bridal dress, the tuxedos, the white runner going up the aisle to where the candles twinkled in the California air, the exchange of “I do’s.” And all at once there was this biblical moment, lifted right from the cross, where Jesus says seven words, first to Mary. “Woman, behold thy son.” Then to his disciple: “Behold thy mother.” A pure gift. All I did was look up John 19 and write it down.
Some creative people complain that theirs is a lonely journey, something they have to struggle through all by themselves. All I can say is: no way.