When I was a child, my mom used to always say that she thought I had the gift of discernment; that I unequivocally knew right and wrong in almost every situation (not that I always chose correctly, mind you) and could detect the right and/or wrong within people almost immediately. I never paid much mind to it and as I grew up and gained more knowledge of the world and the people in it, I began interacting with more and more people, I realized that I had a knack for predicting when particular personalities would eventually go sideways and be problematic in my life. It wasn’t always fun being the downer that didn’t like the guy or girl that everyone else gravitated to, but even if it took years and years, I turned out to be correct almost every time.
In high school, while I was working at the church, there was this flautist that used to play with the worship team every once in a while. Mellow dude, came from the reggae scene of decades past, saw some crazy stuff, found Jesus, never turned back. During pre-service one day, he and I were talking, not really about anything in particular and he stopped himself, almost mid-sentence and said, “Kyle, I feel I have a word for you…I think you have a spiritual gift of prophecy.” I immediately brushed him off, enough that he followed up with, “it was just a word, no way for you to know if it’s from me or the Lord until more time has passed.” I again brushed him off, changed the subject, thought it was weird (still do) and didn’t think about it again until about two or three years ago when the topic of spiritual gifts came up during church. It wasn’t an entire sermon about it, just a mere mention. I was immediately thrown back into that conversation about it. It made me think more as to whether or not I thought that the traditional definition of prophecy was even possible. I realized that if I believe the never-changing God was capable of healing and other supernatural things, why on earth wouldn’t I believe that a gift He supposedly gives us would be any more or less possible than an another? I began to look to language to help me define what it precisely meant or that maybe the actuality that it was lost in the translation from ancient Greek. However, I found that prophecy can be defined as: “to speak as a mediator between God and humankind or in God’s stead.1” While I take a little issue with the second part and frankly the action-words used, I believe it to be an apt description of what I am feeling. Frankly, it’s not as though Paul was always walking around predicting the future all the time, so the more commonplace definition I believe is still valid in regard to the gifts, but I’ve realized it’s more than just that. It’s speaking the truth about God; yesterday, today, and forever. After all, the Old Testament prophets were, indeed, speaking for God, but mostly because the Lord couldn’t always meet direct with the people on account of their unreconciled sin, therefore requiring a mediator to speak into individual lives. While He can and does speak directly to us now through His Spirit, sometimes people are bull-headed and need to have another person physically standing in front of them to tell them things they already know. In a word: prophecy.
I believe this is one of my spiritual gifts. Sometimes in a predictive sense (not fortune-telling), but in an absolute manner of speaking truths about God. Now, as weird as this sounds, I want to say again that our God is a supernatural God. He’s not a “god of weird.” The gifts He gives us are of His nature and therefore are also not weird, but supernatural; thinning the veil between His dimension and ours and glorifying His name and purpose. This should add credence to the gift sometimes being the telling of things to come. God is outside of time, and therefore our future and our past is His present. Words He speaks through the gift of prophecy can be true of Him now and us later. It is not our job to determine His timeframe, just our responsibility to be obedient in speaking truth.
This is where I run into most of my trouble in struggling with this gift by doing what I did when it was first spoken over me: I push it down and ignore it all too often. EVEN when I know it to be true. I want to trust a safe Jesus; a familiar God; the “senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’2” God is not something we can remain stagnant in, where we want to sit back arms-crossed on the sidelines as if we’ve been completed already. We are in process. I am in process. Until the day I die, I will be in process. Sometimes quick-and-fast and sometimes slower and more methodical, but always moving forward.
The faithfulness in that is what I have put my trust in and if I’m honest, this gift is as much for you as it is for me; not speaking when He urges me is depriving you as much as when you don’t use your gift deprives me. And if neither of us moves when He instructs, the rocks will. A donkey will. Or, if need be, He will turn up Himself and speak where there is no doubt He is glorified.
1Dictionary.com; verb, 7th definition. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/prophesying
2”The Problem of Pain,” C.S. Lewis. pp 21. http://www.samizdat.qc.ca/cosmos/philo/PDFs/ProblemofPain_CSL.pdf