catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 18 :: 2013.10.04 — 2013.10.17


Authentic authority

I have always been intrigued by the scripture that tells of the crowds who were amazed at Jesus because He taught as one who had authority, and not like the religious leaders of the time.  Apparently they saw something of the Author in Him, resonating with the faint humming found in their own chest cavities.  The truth they encountered could be rejected, but it could not be disputed.  It rang true, coming from a place of authenticity that the power-mongers of their religious system could not match, its power recognized not “because I said so,” but simply “because it is so.”

Authentic authority rings true.  It resonates deep within.  Its validity stems from the one Author who wrote the story of our beginnings, creating life from words of truth:  “Let there be…”  And sure enough, there was.  The words aligned worlds that came into being, each syllable making, naming, placing.  Everything that lives and breathes carries this story written upon being in wondrous displays of beauty, each enunciating back a part of the story it was written to tell.  I find myself wanting to enunciate this story back to God, too.

Early in the mornings, I run through our neighborhood.  It is my way of keeping my body stirred, my spirit open, my mind cleared.   I sometimes look up at the pre-dawn sky, all the stars and heavenly bodies alive with light, piercing the darkness as they make their way slowly across the expanse above me.  I know that as the seasons change, so will their positions.  And I imagine these celestial bodies whirling and twirling in rhythm to a cosmic song that joyfully announces their beginnings and wistfully eulogizes their ends.  In the darkness I lift up my heart, joining the unending hymn of creation, gratitude and wonder silently escaping with the pounding breath from my lips.  When I join in the song, my life rings true.

One of my deep joys is to come across another soul singer, one who carries the resonance within them in a way I haven’t quite heard before.  I sense God speaking to me through them, because I recognize the stirring:  it is as magnificent as running to the humming of stars because something in me awakens, and I discover there is more here than I realized.  New vistas of comprehension open up within me and I can feel myself expanding.  And I guess this is what those crowds must have discovered, sitting on a hillside listening to Jesus.  His words just filled them up and set them free, opening them to life they never knew was possible but were longing for all along. 

The journey to know authority, for me, has really been a journey of learning to discern the authentic from the fraudulent.  It is the difference between someone who wields power over the other versus one who embraces power for the other.  My own broken beginnings kept me from knowing this difference at first.  I grew up longing so much for acceptance that I never questioned any authority, except my own.  I had no idea that anything about me mattered, except as it related to following the rules, pleasing those who made the rules, and trying to prove my worth by excelling at rules.  In my mind, life was more about a game to be played and mastered rather than a story to be lived.

Yet rule-following for its own sake is soul killing. 

I have found my own authority by realizing that I am a storyteller, too.  I am part of God keeping the story alive and resonating it to those who need to hear it told in just the way I tell it.  I have found that my story has power — the true kind that awakens, kindles, lifts up — when I live authentically, choosing to be true to the story spoken over me, instead of mindlessly following rules. 

And that is when my own life starts humming, my little story resonating a part of the greater Story that God has called me to tell.  It astounds me every time it happens, this resonating, this naming of truth reverberating in other hearts.  I feel awash in a miracle, like I, too, am sitting on a hillside listening with awe as Jesus speaks, this precious Christ speaking from within my own being.  And then my soul leaps, joining the cosmic dance, proclaiming the Greatness of my Maker.

I also find that the more authentic I am, the less I fit in arenas where power-over is brokered among those who make rules, those who enforce rules and those who follow.  I can quietly go about my way, trying not to make a scene, never raising an objection, and yet it seems my very being is objection itself.  This used to not happen.  The taste of rejection is bitter.  But I know better than to try to win the approval of those who don’t understand, who don’t have the ears to hear what comes forth from my deep places.  Someone who hears keenly my heart song once said to my tears, “Don’t let those who don’t know you decide who you are.”  These words gave my soul permission to leap again, to reach for the stars instead of trying to manipulate myself into a box I could no longer squeeze into.

The more I grow, the more I become who I am meant to be, the more I recognize genuine authority.  It may be what scripture means when it says that deep calls to deep.  It is as if the true thing in me tips its hat toward the truth it sees walking around in the world.  And I find myself listening closely for the cadence of other souls singing.  All of us are straining to hear that something beyond ourselves calling us to be more than we already are, completing the story begun when our story was born.  The promise we hold fast to is that someday we will know this story in all its glory, even as we now are fully known.  And when my knowing is complete, I will joyfully lift my voice, joining my song in a mighty chorus of those who are telling the wonders of God’s truth.  

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