When Inspiration Hits
I heard it told someone asked Country music star Willie Nelson where he got his songs from, he replied, ”I pluck ‘em out of the air!” Such notions only convince me that when fleeting inspiration strikes you, it’s like a gentle Spring shower, with a lubricating pelt here and another over there. Too often in my own life have I received a thought, or an inspirational idea, and not acted on it, only to discover down the road that someone else had run with it.
My wife and I for a period did volunteer religious work in Southeast Asia. After reestablishing in the Fort Worth area, I was still working with minority language materials in a home office. Usually, the work day was approached with singing and playing guitar, honoring God in the moment. One day I started to write down the lyrics to a song.
I didn’t stop until I had three verses and a solid chorus. You have to understand, this was the first song I had creatively written after an 11 year hiatus! I was shocked and amused at the same time. I remember being in the doorway, reading over the words scratched upon that yellow notepad. As if from behind me someone spoke, “Now, go sing it to prisoners in jail!”
Turning my head I honestly expected to see someone standing there behind me, yet there was no one, only that perceptibly audible voice. As I began to mentally argue, the voice came again even louder, “Now go sing it to prisoners in jail!” With no one visible, again I mentally argued with the voice saying something like, “Don’t you see my language materials, my exegetical helps, my Bibles and notes, this is what I do!” The statement was confusing. The voice offered no explanation. Did he mean sing the song literally to people in jail, or figuratively, to folks generally? One last time I heard that audible voice speak the same thing.
Two weeks later my wife and I met the main chaplain at the local county jail who was over all the outside volunteer programs there at that jail. I tossed it out to him that I could sing a few hymns accompanied by guitar and if he could use that in his ministry, I wanted to be involved. (mentally I ‘talked’ to the voice, saying, see there, I opened the door). Not long after that he got me clearances, and we began a 3 ½ year association doing mini crusades in the jail lockdown pods. I’ll never forget that time, because when I sang that inspirational song, the largest, meanest-looking, bruising individuals would tear up, some cry. The truly amazing biblical story of God using Jesus to minister to just one single lost soul needing deliverance, became the Naked Gadarene Man song. I can only hope other listeners are moved as much by my song.