Good Lord, what just happened? Where did THAT come from? What does it MEAN? WHO wrote it?

I’ve had this experience more than once—words just spew out of me–sometimes written, sometimes spoken—I don’t consciously recall even having them pass through my brain, much less get filtered, censored or amended. In fact, in school, I perfected the “first draft = final draft” methodology, never using so much as a single piece of correction tape for my typed efforts, nor ever getting a smidgeon of white-out on my fingernails. Granted, I had to be in the right mood for that strategy to work, but it got me through my Master’s degree. It didn’t work as well for the next one, however. The intimidation, striving to please a dissertation professor, hoping to avoid rewrites just for the sake of rewriting. During that effort, professors were quick to point out that “this degree is different—this degree teaches you how little you really know.” Who could, after such a speech, even pretend the seventh or twelfth draft would be good enough. After all, there was so much more I could say if I really put in the effort. With my career riding on the outcome of that degree effort, I could not afford the luxury of a “no rewrites” policy. From that time on, writing became drudgery, filled with much scrutiny and major research and editing. The only joy in writing came from writing our annual Christmas letter, a tradition my husband insisted I continue, even when Christmas letters fell out of favor.

On that particular October morning, a Sunday, there would not only be no rewrite but there would be people who wanted me to rewrite, but somehow, the words all got put back to where they started. But that is for telling later on, just one of many miracles. For now, it is important to take for granted that I didn’t know where the words came from, why they were on the paper in front of me, why I hit “Save” into my word processor, and what in the world it all meant. I had always said, “I think I have a book in me.” But I meant the next Gone with the Wind, not 550 words of “where did this come from?”

Instead of going to “inside church,” my husband and I and our 3 dogs usually attended “outside church.”. We had just returned to our dock after a boat ride on a glorious fall day, with the leaves starting to change to their brilliant reds and golds that herald the coming of their death. All that beauty was perfectly reflected in the water, except where we disturbed it with our wake. I was grateful that I was able to witness God’s prevenient grace that day, even if I still wasn’t sure God had anything to do with it. We got back to the dock and Ken started the usual routine to get the boat back onto its “cradle” so we could raise it up above the water for stowing. I excused myself to go pay back to the earth all the tea I drank with my breakfast at the Willow Grill down river.

I came out of the en-suite bathroom in the Library (we have two rooms with books, so one was designated the Library, and the other one, the Den). As though to answer some as-yet unrecognized call, I sat down at my computer – in less than 10 minutes, this manuscript left-aligned itself onto the screen. As I said earlier, I don’t remember it even passing through the left, much less the right side of my brain, and I sat staring at the words with tears streaming down my face. I stared at my fingers, and urged them move, and they responded appropriately. No malfunction there. I couldn’t figure out what made them work just minutes ago without an operator.

All I could do at the time was save it and wander back onto the pier to help with the boat. For months, I didn’t even reread it. I never even told my husband what caused my absence from my “duty” station, and he never asked. During those months, however, I did begin to think there WAS an operator that day—it just wasn’t me. I’ve since learned that a lot of Christian writers believe God wrote their stories. And they, like me, don’t relish anyone editing them or changing them in any way. But at this point, I felt a kind of embarrassment that if I shared the story with anyone, I knew I would have to admit that I believed I didn’t write it. In my mental state at the time, I thought that was taking “ghost” writing to a different level—one I wasn’t comfortable with. And yet, today, after almost 20 years of sharing life with this manuscript, that is exactly who I believe wrote it—the Holy Ghost.