Silence birthed a new level of authority I see, she said.
She was talking about the preaching, not the thing that happened the week later. That thing hadn’t happened yet. And, to be honest, I thought little more of it, that thing she said.
She will smile at this, I know. Because she knew then that she was right. And she knows it now too. For my part, I smile too. Because I too have learned that she sees what I don’t always yet see.
Silence birthed a new level of authority and it is true. I preached with a greater confidence, a more secure knowledge of who I am in that place. Five days in silence in the corner of England where, more than four years ago, I discovered that the silence is never long enough. This time it was a silence battered by well-meaning questions, by words of encouragement and even by a spider. And so my silence sputtered, threatened to choke itself. But yet it held. And from its depths came something new.
I did not know it, not when I sat there lost in the silence. Not when brain was revving and heart ready to run away. Not when I drove home dissatisfied, convinced that those five days had not yielded of the measure of three years and four years before. Even then when I preached, I had no idea that silence had birthed this new thing, this authority.
And, if you had asked me about authority before the start of May, I would have told you that though last summer they had called this strength out of me, claiming it was on me to become a senior female voice and calling me to step up, they’d got it all wrong. I’d have told you that authority is given, not worked up, that it was never mine to step up to but his to give. And I’d have spoken too of what he then gave as acceleration of authority, first in October and then again in January, that all of it was him.
I’d have told you of new levels of authority and it would all have been true. And I’d have heard – I did hear – that silence birthed a new level of authority and I’d have understood it as continuation of steep-yet-containable authority acceleration already begun.
I know she’s smiling now because she was more right than I knew. It took that thing, the other thing, to open my eyes. For the week after the preach I discovered an authority in a surrender far more ecstatic than I would choose. I found the place beyond the Yes, a place where it appears that prophetic will not be shut in and burden cannot be contained. And as lion roared and weightiness of heaven fell, I heard the authority. Days later, stories were coming to me of its impact.
Silence, it turned out, birthed a new level of authority. And it is not without cost. Over and over in my mind I turn it. Worrying away like with well-worn prayer bead. For my Yes has started something that I cannot finish. And though they ask me what it means we should do, this thing I said, all I can think is ‘what have I done?’
For I said that I would dwell with fire and now fire would dwell with me.