WARNING: Plenty of God talk to follow. If that sort of thing makes you choke like a rock drummer on his own vomit, then by all means please skip this blog.
Prophecy is a heavy burden to bear. I don’t mean saying words: saying words is far too easy. I mean when a “prophet” speaks words over a person. Allow me to give three examples; each a true story. I won’t give the real names of the people involved.
I myself am living “outside” a prophetic word. I think of it weekly, sometimes. How come my life didn’t turn out the way the prophecy said it would? Why are my cousin and I not the Moses and Aaron of Children’s Ministries worldwide? Did I miss a boat somewhere, and live my life wrong? what about my cousin? He didn’t even know about the prophecy and he hasn’t fared any better toward this goal. Maybe it’s ultimately better not to know.
Sarah has been blind in one eye since she can remember. When she was sixteen, she went to see a famous evangelist/healer at her parents’ urging. In the show, he prophesied that her eye would be healed. Her eye was healed, in fact, he promised, in front of thousands of believers who shouted, clapped, and praised God. She just had to believe and come forth into the light. The evangelist left town soon after, as these itinerant preachers do, and the girl’s eye was still unhealed. Sarah continued to believe. A month passed. She asked her parents what she did wrong. It wasn’t working. Her parents insisted it was hidden sin in her life: God was withholding His Glory because she hadn’t yet *deserved* the fullness of His healing. She spent years battling, and finally resigned herself to blindness, and to her decrepit fallen nature.
Beth accepted the minister’s word: she’d been totally healed of her heart condition at a youth camp. She wept with joy for her healing, in a testimony service, and went out from the chapel service to play ball with her friends. She’d never been able to run before; nor hardly walk. God had made her whole! Beth was excited to share the good news to the parents, which she was able to do 2 days later, when she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance because she’d overtaxed herself.
Donna’s mother prophesied that her daughter was to marry a pastor and would go to the mission field. Mother had the “gift” — she saw things that others didn’t. She saw the future. She also saw demonic presences, and took very literally the commandment to “pray without ceasing.” She was truly blessed of the Lord, and had a nearly-direct line to the Heart of God. Donna spent four years at Bible College, looking for the mate her mother had prophesied of. Her major was music, appropriate to a helpmeet of a young minister. Her mother scheduled her classes, managed her friends, and acted as the rudder to steer Donna’s life. If she ever dared contradict her, she wasn’t going simply against Mother’s wishes, but God’s wishes as well. When her mother began to die, it’s as if the rudder had snapped loose. Donna’s life changed. In sorrow, she began to rebel. Her mother passed away. She married a kind man, but not a pastor. She’s lived in the pain of knowing she was, for the rest of her life, living outside God’s will, a shame to both her Mother’s wishes, and to God.
Without much struggle, I can think of five more stories in a similar vein. Accepting prophecy is not a rare thing in the modern Charismatic movement, people. In fact, it’s almost a necessity. If you don’t believe, where’s your faith? To contradict the Mouthpiece of God is to contradict God himself. The problem can’t lie within God, who is all-knowing, and omnioptent. It can’t lie with His Mouthpiece. Where else is there? Well? You. And the Devil. Sin. Maybe a combination of the three. This is the logical chain that leaves us to blame the person who’s been given the gift of a Prophetic Word.
I’m not indicting the Church, or people who are proclaimed to be Prophets. It does make you wonder, though, why prophecy is important? As Christians we’ve been given a relatively simple prophetic vision of the future: There’s Christ, who will be returning, and at some point (depending on your flavor of Christianity) the Chosen of God will spend eternity in Paradise. Isn’t that good enough? Do we have to know more specific things of our life, to be happy? or is knowing the future as much a curse as lamenting your past? Either way, you forget to live.
I’m also not denying the possibility of miracles. You may notice a pattern in the Bible, if you read the Gospels/Acts. First, the miracles of Christ don’t come with strings attached. I don’t think I read the passage where Jesus of Nazereth said “Believe harder, and your leprosy will be healed.” Second, the miracles always point to something bigger than the miracle itself. That’s why they’re called miracles, and not “Free stuff from God for his chosen,” notwithstanding the fact that 3-syllable words are easier to say.
Any prophecy though, is rooted in wisdom, not in fortune-telling. I wonder if the evangelist in my first story ever went back to check to see how Sarah was doing? I doubt it. I would bet he forgot about Sarah within a week. Another story to show the power of God working through the evangelist’s ministry.
I am amazed Beth’s parents didn’t own themselves their very own youth camp after that summer. Did the camp ever learn its lesson? What of the pastor who “guaranteed” her healing, and let her leave without a medical confirmation of the miracle? Was he held responsible?
How about Donna? How would her life have been different if, rather than trying to fit herself into the words of a prophecy, she’d have simply lived her life to its fullest? Where would she be today? would she be weeping for her lost past?
Like most of my “religious” posts, I have more questions than answers. This is all for thought. The idea of prophecy in the 21st century is unformed. We all think we know what it means, but if it’s just a license to do and say whatever we like, consequences be damned, maybe it’s time to sit down and really struggle with the meaning of prophecy. Somebody’d better, before anyone else gets hurt.