Dear ‘Prophetic Word-Bearer’,
There are many times in my life when I’ve pleaded with God for you to make an appearance with a ‘word’ for my situation.
Just for clarification, I haven’t been expecting any accompanying miracle or detailed roadmap. A quiet word of encouragement when in a crisis that I was ‘doing the right thing’ would have been very welcome, however, or even a strong hint about which option to choose in a dilemma could have saved me a sleepless night or two.
But your absence in all these tortured moments has been conspicuous.
I’m often left wondering, like the shepherd David of biblical times, about the rationality of wishing God would intervene in the life of one human being.
I imagine David wrestling with the words which will finally become Psalm 8. We humans as tiny specks in a large vista, engulfed in an inky sky and mountain silhouettes.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Pslam 8, 3-5.
Somehow in that dark, cavernous space, God himself ministers His majestic glory and grace into my soul, and it is enough. I don’t need any more ‘words’ than the ones he has given already in the Bible.
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
― C.S. Lewis
When national tragedy or brutal acts of terrorism hit our headlines, I often wonder why God does not do something more visible, paint a cross in the sky or perhaps schedule a lunar eclipse.
Where are your prophetic words then? I want them to be eloquent, poetic, worthy of a national headline. But you remain silent.
Admittedly, there are sometimes no explanations, no words. Evil is stark and cold and it often seems to be winning.
But the redemption story of the Bible transcends all urgency of world events large and small. It’s re-iteration at moments like these bring perspective.
That final judgement of evil seems overdue to us, but God waits.
God is patient because he “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” in Jesus. (I Tim. 2, 4. ESV)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.
Matthew 23, 37.
God is with us in our suffering, even when that suffering is a direct result of the free will choices of ourselves or others.
I’ve had very few experiences of actually receiving ‘prophetic words’, and sadly each of these incidents is etched in my memory as a rather unwelcome intrusion.
I owe you this explanation as it may help you understand why I may seem uneasy with the apparent proliferation of ‘prophetic gift’ within the Christian church.
On each occasion, the bearer of ‘prophetic words’ has delivered said words in a well-rehearsed speech, worthy of any screen performance.
Once, the prophetess had a single ‘word’ from God she felt compelled to share with me. Tremblingly, and with more than a little ceremony, she took a seat beside me then hastily drew out several love hearts on a piece of A4. She had brought a red pen to colour her drawing then changed back to her original black one to write the word LOVE in large child-like capitals below the hearts. I was perplexed. I still am. I asked God to show me if what she said had relevance to my life, but I’m convinced God was indeed not speaking this word to me.
On another occasion, the prophet used his words to criticise – deliberately, decisively, cruelly.
Please don’t misjudge me, I do most sincerely believe that God uses people to communicate His word to others.
“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
John 17, 23. ESV
Jeanne Guyon (1648 – 1717) explains this beautifully in a series of letters written to her mentees in the faith.
“I am in God, and He is in me. As He conquers me more deeply, He will not only draw me more closely to Himself, but He will draw others through me. This drawing is more powerful than the rays of the sun. But never think that it is the ray (believer) that is doing the drawing – it is always God who does this. Seek to be a pure channel so that He may shine brightly through you.
So God imparts His grace both through believers and between them.”
Jeanne Guyon. Intimacy With Christ.
I believe God has spoken to me directly on a handful of occasions in my life. Each time His voice has been unmistakable (“My sheep hear my voice” ) and the knowledge that it was a word from God came from deep within my soul.
On two of these occasions, the ‘word’ was delivered as part of a traditional sermon from visiting clergy. Neither of the messengers knows to this day the importance of what God said through them to me.
These are deeply cherished moments in my faith walk with Jesus.
For my own part, I believe that as I draw closer to God, I am both more able to receive His Word and God is better able to speak to others through me.
The overall effect is like a symphony, beautiful and harmonious.
God’s ways are authentic., often challenging yet pleasingly straightforward in their execution.
In my experience and those of others, God speaks in the present moment of our lives, in the ordinary. It was by an order of the Roman Emperor that Joseph went to Bethlehem to be taxed. Similarly, it was when Hagar laid her fluid deprived child down to die, that God showed her the well nearby.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3. (ESV)
Please don’t, therefore, be offended if I do not initially receive any ‘word’ directed to me (from God via you) with expected enthusiasm. It’s just that God specifically cautions me against believing everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit without ‘testing’ them first. (1 John 4. 1) There are many false prophets I’m told.
With the deepest of Christian love.