Authority, the Artist and God

John Enslow's oil paintings

For years now, every Monday, I take a three-hour oil painting class. The purpose of the teaching is to train the students in the classical style of the masters. While the class has helped me to develop my artistic eye, it has also helped me to keep my approach to life fresh. I’ve noticed that when I have an artistic outlet, my creativity flourishes in every area of my life. It’s been a true gift.

Well, the teacher of this class is a bit of a narcissist (though I’ve seen evidence of this changing). I believe he’s a Christian, but he still has that somewhat off-putting artist’s temperament. I’m amazed at how people respond to him—truly a love-hate relationship. He’s highly trained and very skilled, in fact, he actually studied in Italy at the famed Accademia in Florence. So he’s not just a self-proclaimed “artist” (though he often says just that), he really does have a pedigree.  The only issue is his narcissistic temperament making it very difficult for a number of his students.

Although I have gone to this class for art training, another thing has emerged as a lesson. I’ve learned something deeply spiritual. It’s one of those hidden messages that you could miss if you’re not listening to the Father. What’s this message? Authority!

This teacher will push every single rebellious bone in your body. If you have unresolved rebellion anywhere, it will rise up from the ashes like a phoenix! Nothing stings like someone who cares only for himself, as it rubs against your own demand that someone focus on you. Sure I’m there to learn from him and I’m paying him to teach me, but I can’t demand it my way and not be “the authority.”  To truly learn from someone, you come under and then the lessons can flow.

As I’ve watched this play out, I am floored by the fact that those who surrender and come under his authority, allowing him to be the teacher, also flourish as students. And oddly enough, this is exactly how it is with God. God demands that my focus be on Him, and my surrender be total. It’s very difficult because often I think I know better. Reality check – I don’t know anything!

Here’s the joy, if I submit and surrender to the Most High God in every aspect of my life, whether painful or exhilarating, I flourish. And looking back at my entire life in this light, I see a whole lot of resistance and rebellion to God’s choices and plans. But you know, I also see the tremendous fruit that has come as I have yielded and surrendered. My whole life has really been set up to chap my rebellion.

Now I’m wondering if all of life is not set up specifically to rub against our rebellious ways. Authority isn’t authority if I only submit when I agree or get my way. Authority is designed to rub against my willfulness and rebellion. If everything went my way, how would authority be tested? What character building is achieved if I’m in agreement with everything my authority says? When authority challenges my will and I yield, that’s character building.

Authority is my best friend and worst enemy. It’s the enemy of my willful self, and the best friend of my destiny.

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    • brother kirk

      Thanks John, next to God, Jesus and being saved, authority is THE most important lesson to be learned. Seeing authority is one thing, being under authority is another, but “Staying” under authority is the greatest test, this is where many abandon ship.

      • pearl

        yup, brother kirk…so true Hope I can stay put for a while anyway!! I am learning its the only TRUE freedom…

    • Irene

      John, (I am sighing deeply) this may be one of the best blog posts you’ve written! I have just read Martha’s devotional for today in which she talks about Jesus’ coming inside our frame of reference. That is exactly what you have done for me through this post, Thank you for having eyes to see and ears to hear what The Spirit is saying. And thank you for sharing it with us. Now I am going to look for the “rub”.

    • Sharon

      What a beautiful example you have given! Sometimes I just go with His flow throughout the day and it seems I’ve overcome the flesh and have endured. But then there’s other days when the stinking flesh rears it’s ugly head and I bow down to it. I hate it!!!! I give into it!! I run to Him with such a hurting heart because I’ve hurt him! But He never fails to pick me back up, cleanses me, stands me on my feet and once again we start a new day. Great is His Faithfulness. I just pray that there will be more days I go with His flow and overcome the flesh than those days that I rebel.

    • Sam

      “When authority challenges my will and I yield, that’s character building.”

      “Authority is my best friend and worst enemy. It’s the enemy of my willful self, and the best friend of my destiny.”

    • Sam

      Authority is such an important issue.

      Nations fall and rise on this single hinge. Almost the greatest acclaim of Jesus was made through the issue of authority (the roman officer, centurian, whose servant was ill.)

      Who is following your leader?
      Who is your leader?

      Most probably you all know Gene Edward’s book “A Tale Of Three Kings” a masterpiece about this issue.

    • pearl

      Omg, awesome…hit the nail on my head or on the head…either way…this is my life!!

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