It began with Leea.
I had already come up with a plan. I would write stories for people – as gifts. I would call it “practice” and hope they were blessed in my messy process of becoming a writer. So many stories swimming inside, sometimes you just have to aim and shoot and get them out.
So, Leea was my first target.
I was a missionary in southern Illinois at the time. Living a life of spiritual luxury with a small band of prayer warriors. Hours to spend on the Lord and lingering with people, I felt like a Queen.
Leah was the eldest daughter of a family our team had fallen in love with. They were the Von Trap family worshippers – two passionate parents, a slew of children, and a desire to travel around the area leading worship and seeking God. Leea is one of those people that captures your heart simply by saying, “It’s nice to meet you.” Our staff was invited to her sweet 16 birthday, and I felt charged to get-a-typing.
Sometimes writers wait for inspiration.
Until you have about 3 hours before said party – and an hour and half drive to get there.
I took my laptop and my wavering inspiration to our little prayer room and pulled up a chair.
“Okay, Jesus. I’m here. I could use a story.” Half of my thoughts centered on giving me a good talking to for waiting until the last minute, while the others tried to quiet me down so I could hear what God was saying.
It started by thinking of Leea, and suddenly I knew. God wanted to give her an invitation. He wanted to meet with her.
All I could think of was our mutual love for all things Jane Austen, and suddenly… tappy, tappy, tappy on my lappy…Leea was off to have tea with God.
I watched my fingers type away, as if they knew the story themselves. But everything stopped at the end of the story.
“Just lift the lid.” He nodded.
I knew the music from the music box would be divine. Music streamed through my mind like a happy lark while my fingers dashed out the details. Triumphantly I arrived at:
“It’s the sound of heaven?” She asked with awe.
Of course it was, that music box was playing songs from heaven – no doubt. I knew it! I enlisted my fingers back to their tap-dance.
But that’s when I felt the Spirit of God stop me. I had it wrong. And as I listened to what He had on his heart, I began to cry.
I wrote the rest of the story with elephant tears showering my tap-dancing fingers. Gene Kelly would have been proud.
“It’s the sound of the Kingdom,” He said, “In you.” He smiled.
Suddenly the story was not about oohs and aahs of the amazing tea house or God buzzing about how outrageous the sounds of heaven are – it was about the incomprehensible love of the Father for his daughter.
It’s a theme that shows up time and time again in The Invitation.
The story came to a close and I dried my tears. I sat asking God to confirm the story – that it was from Him, that He had been a part of this creative process.
I asked for a sign.
I asked for a music box.
A few hours later in the dwindling light of a city park, Leea’s grandmother gave her a box. I remember her saying it was a present intended for Leea last year, but had gotten lost.
She opened the gift, and my tears returned. There it was. A music box. The tune: The Wind Beneath my Wings.
“He will cover you with his feather, and under his wings you will find refuge;” Psalm 91:4
Suffice it to say. I decided to keep writing Invitations.
He says, “An invitation for one, is an invitation for all.”
So here’s, a delivery for you.