Silently, silently this gift has come. And suddenly in the space of two years I find myself with an authority which I would never have believed. The sowing of my twenties, seed into darkness underground, waiting, waiting, waiting. And now death into life, barrenness into fruitfulness, silence into words of weightiness.
I never sought it, this gift. Wanted only to survive, to know that perhaps I was OK. Wanted that I too might be a minister to his church, though I was not a man nor an extravert nor an intuitive thriving on big-picture breadth of activity.
And how often I heard that I was not OK. How often I heard that I was not this enough, or that. How often my gifts with the text and in the prophetic and in the intellectual space were disparaged. How often the fledging contemplative yearning to sit long in the silence was dismissed as naive, unreasonable. How often the capacity for extraverting detailed logical propositions was rejected because they wanted me to judge the world through the lens of feelings. How often I heard that I was not OK.
They never meant it that way, of course. They wanted me to be well-rounded, to mature in ministry. Which, for them, meant that I become just like them. And whilst I grew into the areas which were not strength for me, I could never become them – though I tried. For I was me and in that was the gift itself.
Twenties gave way to thirties and, for years, the death and barrenness and silence continued. Still, I had to learn to accept my belovedness. Still, I had to learn to trace the uniqueness of its every contour, to own the gift that it is.
And then mid-thirties. Another gift began to sprout from the first. From the gift of who I am has come this newer one. An authority. For now I know who I am and I am no longer ashamed. Most days, anyway. And I hold it and I own it and some people hate it but others receive overflow of blessing from it. From it flow my Nos because I am now unequivocal on my Yes. And from it, too, flows my capacity to call out the beauty which I see in others and to fight on their behalf that the gift of who they are might not be quenched but fanned into flame.
Authority to be. But also authority to bless. The grace to roar on behalf of the other, to counter the efforts of those who want to make the other in their own image, to use my strength to make space for the flourishing of the other.
And I don’t know how this has happened in the last couple of years nor why there has been acceleration in the last six months. But, more and more, he shows me that not only am I no longer that storm-tossed twenty-something who can barely find space to breathe and to be. No, he has given more than this. For now I am not only able to own my strength and beauty but I can also hold the space that others might discover theirs.
What about you? What are the areas of your life right now in which you see God acting sovereignly to do something beautiful whilst you simply watch in wonder-filled awe?