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The Holy Spirit: Where Inspiration Comes from

The root word for inspiration comes from the same word for "to breathe." In other words, it's like a deep breath of life. A refreshing breeze. A holy spirit.

When babies are born, the first thing they do is take a deep breath, finally using those lungs. We all know we need to breathe to live, but can't we say the same for inspiration? Without it, we might as well be dead.

The Holy Spirit

So where does inspiration come from… and how do we find it?

I'm reminded of a story in the Bible in which the resurrected Jesus appears to his followers after his death.

These are the very people whom he’s trained and entrusted to carry on with his work — his disciples. And what are they doing? 

They're hiding.

They’re afraid. They're discouraged. They think the mission has failed. They have the skills and experience. But they lack the encouragement, the power within, to do what they must do.

So Jesus does something strange.

He walks up to them, takes a deep breath, and exhales in their faces. A weird gesture, to be sure. Then he says something even weirder: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Really? That's it? All it takes to be empowered by the Spirit of God? Then what was Pentecost all about? Where is the speaking in tongues or fancy prayers and prophesies?

Just some hot air — a breath. That's it.

But maybe something deep and and powerful is going on here.

I received my first kiss when I was eight years old. In the basement of my aunt’s house, my cousins and I devised a game called “kissing tag” and invited a couple of girls over to play.

The rules were simple:

  1. You had a ball.
  2. You threw the ball at a person of the opposite sex.
  3. The person hit had to kiss the thrower. 

I was excited, because this meant the possibility of my receiving my first kiss from a girl who wasn't my mom.

At first, I avoided the ball. Until I realized no one was throwing it at me.

In my preparation for this moment, I hadn’t anticipated my older cousin’s good looks and Italian charm stealing the show. After 10 minutes of realizing the ball had not even grazed my body, I left the game, stomping up the stairs. I sulked.

A few minutes later, I heard a creak in the steps. It was one of the girls. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her:

“All I’m getting from this stupid game is a headache.”  

She nodded. Then she took the ball that was sitting on the step next to her and leaned in slowly. She paused for a moment, inches away from my face.

I felt her breath on my cheek. And she whispered, “You’re it.”

And then she kissed me.

She darted down the steps, and I raced after her. I three the ball and hit her with. She kissed me again.

Invigorated, I threw the ball at the other girl. There was no stopping me now. I was Cassanova.

Something happened with that kiss. It was nothing but the swift brush of lips on cheek, and then again, it was more.

When it happened, something changed inside of me. I changed.

That kiss encouraged me, emboldened me. It made me a man — at least in my eyes. I went from thinking I could do something to knowing it.

Tthis is how inspiration works. It gives us the confidence to do what we've been called to do.

Sometimes, we need more than mere abilities. We need more than our skills and education. We need to be inspired.

Sometimes, in order to live out our callings, we need a kiss of encouragement. A simple but potent word. It may seem arbitrary or insignificant, but it is anything but.

It is the spiritual uplifting, the fresh air of purpose, the blowing wind that we need. The holy, breath of life.

Photo credit: John Walker (Creative Commons)