Waiting For Inspiration.
Waiting For Inspiration.
As some of you may know, I was privileged to have had the opportunity to meet and live with one of my childhood heroes, the late Rich Mullins. In 1997, just before his passing, he stayed for three weeks with my family. While I have written about the most relevant parts of this story that I can remember, I have just recently recalled a certain event that I never included in the story.
My brother and I were with Rich in our living room and we were talking with him about songwriting, as we were both interested in music ourselves, hoping to catch any crumbs of wisdom that he might be so generous to toss us. My brother asked, “So, do you write when you feel inspired?”
I’ll never forget Rich’s answer. He laughed, and then said something to the effect of “If I waited till I was inspired, I might never write anything”. To my brother and I, this answer came as a big shock. How could the most inspiring songwriter we know of be lacking inspiration when he writes? This seemed like a big juxtaposition.
But, I’ve revisited this memory over the years when things in my own life have become uninspiring. During college when I was struggling to make ends meet, feeling like the finish line was nowhere in sight. During paramedic school, watching people fail or drop out of class, sometimes feeling unsure of where my path would take me. As a musician. A writer. I’ve often sat there in front of the screen. Cursor blinking. Feeling uninspired, and wondering how all the glory and excitement I once envisioned had turned into a strange sense of obligation.
This is where those words of Rich have begun to make more sense. During these times, they’ve given me something other than my feelings to consider. Maybe it’s not a sign of failure when the passion is gone. Maybe there is a lot more to see than we are naturally inclined to.
I think of how it seems to be pre-wired into us to be wholehearted. We don’t like acting without emotion. And sure, we’ve all seen enough movies like Rocky and Rudy to believe we shouldn’t be a part of anything that our hearts aren’t fully invested in.
This seems to apply to our faith, our relationships, physical exercise, and even writing music. And I truly believe this comes from a place of good intent. That same part of us that dreams big and makes us feel alive is also the part that doesn’t want anything halfway.
This compels us to use the most careful intention when picking our careers, our marriage partners and our passions, because we don’t want to make such big decisions lightly, or feeling “ho-hum”. But if we are depending too much upon those feelings of inspiration, we may come to feel lost, as most of these big, important decisions eventually bring us to a place where the passion that initially drove us is nowhere to be found.
In these cases, we may wonder if we made the right choice. We may wonder if we should jump ship, change paths, or start over somewhere new. Or, we may simply become inactive, waiting for that dear inspiration to return and refuel our heart’s engines. But, that’s usually not what we need. In fact, it’s quite often the opposite. What’s really needed in these moments is perseverance. Faith. A sense of responsibility.
Hebrews 12 tells us to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Galatians 6 tells us not to be weary in well doing. James 1 tells us that “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial”. Some of these important verses pertaining to our direction seem to focus more on obedience and less on fabulous feelings. King David, the “man after God’s own heart”, often spoke of feeling disheartened, alone and weary. He sometimes wondered if God was present in his trials and dealt with deep types of doubt and questioning.
Here’s what I know: if the most inspiring songwriter I’ve ever met says that he can’t count on inspiration, then maybe it’s just as unrealistic for us to think we can count on it. In fact, maybe that’s the more truthful, less-hyped and less-romanticized fact about living a good life… that right actions won’t always be accompanied by feelings of inspiration.
I think of Rich’s words once more, and I think of all the ways that they apply to my life. I too might never _________ if I waited to feel inspired. In that blank, fits: exercise. Eat healthy. Read the Bible. Get up early for church. Work. Pay bills. What fits into that blank for you?
Inspiration is something that simply won’t be there all of the time. Because of this, we should know better than to wait for it in order to take action, or to see it as a sign that we’re on the right path, or to let it be our main driving force.
So, if inspiration is none of these things, then what can we conclude about it… that it is unimportant? That it is unnecessary? No. I don’t think that’s the moral to this story. I think that inspiration is good. I think it can benefit us. I think that sometimes, it’s what God gives us a small taste of. Who knows why… perhaps only to help us imagine what else He has in store for us… if we’re obedient.
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