Friday, August 20, 2010

The power of words

I had quite an interesting encounter today. I was at the local library preparing my Sunday sermon. Mine was the only table in the library because they were doing early voting. So this guy comes wandering over with his laptop looking for a place to plug in and work. He's an African American, I'm guessing 40 years old. I tell him to take the other half of my table.

So we sit there quietly doing our work, when I notice he's laughing a little bit. Then he looks up and speaks to me. He says, "You don't have to study so hard. God's going to give you your sermon."

He's not a crazy man - I've talked with plenty of crazy people in my time. This guy's for real. He's kind and sincere.

He goes on. He says God gave him a word for me. "You don't have to study so hard. God's going to tell you what to say this Sunday."

How does he know I'm a preacher? How does he know what I was doing at the library?!

We have a good conversation. I find out he owns a trucking company. We get to know each other a little bit more.

Then he continues the "prophecy." He reaches out, takes my hand, and says, "You're going to have a lot of influence. God is going to give you three groups of people: constituents, comrades, and counselors. You have the anointing. God is preparing you for influence."

Now, I have always been a skeptic when it comes to "words of prophecy" and such. While I love the Pentecostal and charismatic friends I've made over the years, and believe that we Presbyterians have a lot to learn from them, I have serious reservations about their theology. Nevertheless, I cannot just dismiss what this guy said to me today. He told me that he never goes to the library. Something just "told" him to go there today. Is it just a coincidence that on this day, because early voting was going on, there was only one table in the whole library, and that he and I came at the same time and sat at this table?

I had a similar experience back in the 1990s when I was pastor of a church in South Carolina. A member of my church had a strong charismatic leaning. He was a good friend and we often met together for prayer. One time he took me by the shoulders, looked deeply into my eyes, and shared what he called a prophetic word. I can't remember now exactly what he said, but the gist was similar to what this fellow told me today at the library. God had a special call upon my life and would use me to influence many people for Christ.

It would be enough to swell my head were it not for the way these fellows pointed me away from myself and to the cross. I don't know how to interpret these messages, but at the very least they were words of comfort and blessing spoken at critical moments in my life. Whatever gift these guys possess, I like it!

Perhaps it shows the power of encouragement. Maybe we all ought to be a lot more ready to tell our fellow Christians that God loves them, that they are needed in the battle, and that they have the anointing of the Holy Spirit for a special calling. "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Proverbs 25:11, NIV).

Has anything similar happened to you?


Christine Fontaine said...

I would say that I have been very skeptical in the psst too...but I have so many stories that I could share about stuff like this that even blows me away and some of them I was there for! After spending 3 months in foreign countries and seeing so many amazing thing happen, I have to say that I am ruined for ordinary living but so excited about what you are doing here! It was SO encouraging to worship with the family this morning and to see you, even if we didn't get to talk!

Mike said...

It was good to have you "home," Christine. I saw lots of people talking to you. As for your comment, I agree that we too often dictate to God what kinds of things he may and may not do. Humility is the best posture when it comes to understanding God's ways.