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Meditation: Writing Tips from the Holy Spirit

Perhaps it’s blindingly obvious: the books of the Bible were written by writers. Storytellers, poets, songwriters, historians, correspondents, legal scholars and apocalyptic dreamers. The Holy Spirit breathed upon each one, opened their hearts and ears and eyes to the spiritual realities around them. But they were still writers. They struggled to capture the inspired moment of clarity and present a finished work capable of blessing generations to come.

Peter described it this way: “the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1: 10-11)

The writers searched intently, but the Spirit did not leave them alone. It was an inspired collaboration. The prophet Habakkuk--that discontent, whining, and wondering man who inspired the Apostle Paul--recorded the process of capturing God’s flash of inspiration. It’s a lesson to us today as well:

"I will stand at my watch 
and station myself on the ramparts; 
I will look to see what he will say to me,
 and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Then the Lord replied:
Write down the revelation
 and make it plain on tablets
 so that a herald may run with it.
 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; 
it speaks of the end 
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
 it will certainly come
 and will not delay." (Habakkuk 2: 1-3)

Here are four observations capable of making us partners with the Spirit’s inspiration:

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts . . .” We ourselves create the space to receive revelation. Habakuk purposefully took up the position of watchman, alone and vigilant, eager and confident that the Lord would speak to him. He was not disappointed; he had prepared himself for when the moment came.

Make it plain . . . “ God favors clarity. Beauty and art flow from inspiration--and the clear expression of what he illuminates. There is a time to scatter rose petals among our words, but first comes content. Our words should carry a meaning so clear that even people in a hurry can get the idea.

The revelation awaits an appointed time . . .” Strangely, the appointed time is seldom in the heat of battle. When social debate rages back and forth in public media we are exposed to the heat of passion, but there’s not much light. The prophets spoke to their day, but the prophetic message carried eternal weight. Neither human emotion nor intellect equal divine revelation--it comes only from God, and it comes only in his timing.

Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come . . .” That's right: wait for it. Habakkuk stationed himself. He also waited. In the rush to say something important we often miss the opportunity to hear something eternal. Waiting is the discipline of writers who speak to generations. You can speak to the moment or you can speak to the ages--you can rarely do both.

I believe in the inspiration of the scripture, but I don’t believe the Holy Spirit used us as robots, forcing us to mindlessly scribble words we didn’t understand. We have a role to play, a role that compliments the word of the Spirit. Habakkuk shows us how it’s done.

Reader Comments (5)

Thanks for posting. If you would believe it, I was asking God to teach me something new about His word just yesterday, and He had me read Habakkuk. I couldn't make head or tail of what He was wanting me to see. And then today you post this. And of course these past few days I've been starting to dream of writing something more than just journals.
God's timing is indeed perfect. I'll be chewing on this for a while.

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Hi Katie: I'm honored to play a small role in your journey. Grace to you, and peace.

August 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

The Spanish word for wait is the same as the word for hope.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I wonder if anyone other than Katie read the whole dialog between Habakkuk and our Lord. Most people I talk with in churches are not comfortable (or hopeful) with God raising up people He promises to punish.

I do know that God does keep me from writing what He knows recipients are not ready for. I am nothing without His teachings and I have petitioned Him not to let me do damage to anyone. That petition has been answered in ways I could only later find out.

I am a member of His church and the Father's family. My destiny is in God's hands and more than hope I am certain it will be right. I dialog as His disciple whether it be in writing, reading, talking or listening. There is no stupid sincere question in His family or His church or His school. When we write one another, as a disciple, in our name it is a question. When we write, as a prophet or apostle, in His name we best be certain that He was speaking through us for it is no longer a question for He knows the answer.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Hi Herm~no doubt: caution and humility are the order of the day when writing on his behalf. I hope I keep that in mind! :-)

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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