I’ve found myself thinking about prophecy lately because of a recent personal experience and some ongoing reflection on a meditation I read a few weeks ago. In this post, I’m sharing some initial thoughts on understanding God’s power of prophecy in our lives today.
We tend to think about prophecy as “speaking truth to power.” However, as Mike Petrow pointed out in a recent CAC meditation, that’s an incomplete notion. Social criticism isn’t all that God cares about. In Petrow’s words, “Prophecy is speaking truth to power on behalf of a divine vision of wholeness.”
Yes, the prophets in Hebrew Scripture rant against Israel’s shortcomings (as Hosea does here). God grieves over the people’s lack of “faithfulness or loyalty.” God is angry that Israel’s leaders have pursued other gods and don’t care for the people they are supposed to lead and guide. Speaking truth to power is part of the package.
Yet God also wants so much more than our frail, often sin-blinded, eyes can see or our hearts and minds can imagine. Therefore, the prophets also speak of new visions that perhaps we cannot yet glimpse. They share enticing promises of a future filled with healing, safety, and plenty (as Isaiah does here). This divine vision of wholeness is both individual and communal. Feeble knees are made firm, and the eyes of the blind are “opened.” People travel safely upon a highway called the “Holy Way.” Water will flow in the desert.
This all reminds me of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago. I won’t share the content or context, but what came out of my mouth—without passing through my brain first—was this question: “Is it finally time for you to stop running away from this call?” It shocked us both. Yet, further conversation revealed a clear invitation from Spirit to embrace an opportunity for further training in leadership.
So, how was this moment prophetic? First, we are colleagues. So it wasn’t that I was speaking truth to someone more powerful than I am. Instead, I believe that Spirit spoke through me to someone who has power they are not using. God used my mouth to open their eyes to see more about how they fit into God’s vision of wholeness.
It also wasn’t about social criticism as a communal issue. As I noted above, prophecy has both individual and communal components. Evidently, the Spirit wants this person to use their God-given gifts and situational opportunities more fully. This person has some (spiritual) power. Perhaps there will be opportunities to use this new training in ways that none of us can yet envision.
Many times, we believe we aren’t good or righteous enough to be used by God. I beg to disagree. God can, and will, use every one of us. Sometimes the Holy Spirit even takes over our mouths and uses them in ways we could not have imagined.
Many times, we think we don’t have the right platform or connections or enough chutzpa to speak truth to power. But we don’t all need to be preaching to those at the top of the political food chain. Instead, God might be calling us to share invitations to those we know and love who aren’t fully using their gifts “on behalf of a divine vision of wholeness.”
When has the Spirit used you in some prophetic way? How might you view some incident in your life differently if you ponder it through this prophetic lens?