She sat alone at a picnic table in the local park, highlighting a hard-cover book and making notes in the margins.
I planned to either read or take a nap in the shade while my husband completed the business meeting for which we’d come to this town. But the Holy Spirit prompted me to approach the woman.
I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, so I asked if it was okay for me to sit at the other end of the table. She nodded as I opened my book. After a few minutes, I asked her name and what she was studying. Conversation began to flow, and I found out “Helen” was going through a divorce.
Soon she began to cry.
I asked if I could sit next to her and pray for her. Another nod. The Lord brought to mind Psalm 56:8,
“You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
Helen was amazed to learn God values our tears enough to collect them. I could see the light of hope dawn in her eyes.
We talked a bit about her spiritual background—she’d been a church attender, but not lately—and I asked if I could invite someone else into the conversation. A third “yes.” I headed across the street because I knew the Christian couple Scott met with and would be able to connect this woman to a local church.
The meeting was wrapping up. I briefly explained the situation and asked the wife, “Sharon,” whom I had just met, if she would come speak to this woman. She immediately agreed. When we got back to the park and I introduced the two women, Sharon said to Helen, “Did you know the Bible says God collects our tears?”
“That’s what she just told me!” she exclaimed, looking back at me. She swiped at her tear-streaked cheeks and laughed with joy.
I’d said nothing about that verse to Sharon. But the Holy Spirit wanted to confirm to Helen God saw her and cared about her pain. Sharon then invited her to church—a place where God could continue to show her his love through his people.
“Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy…the person who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation (1 Cor. 14:1, 3b).”
When the Holy Spirit draws our attention to a person and prompts us to share a specific thought or mental image or Scripture verse, that’s the gift of prophecy in action. God shows his love to that person by demonstrating he sees them and cares about their concerns.
In New Testament times, believers were encouraged to stand strong amidst persecution by means of prophetic words. Their faith was boosted by the knowledge that God intimately understood their hardships.
Believers around the world today need the same kind of strengthening.
Even when we aren’t faced with severe oppression, life is filled with trials and challenges. All of us need to be built up, encouraged, and consoled on a regular basis.
Having been on the receiving and giving end of prophetic words for decades, I’m convinced of the validity and value of this spiritual gift. Do people prophesy amiss? Yes, we can. Do people get unnecessarily weird about prophesying? Yes, we can do that, too.
In future posts, we’ll talk about healthy boundaries for the gift of prophecy and how to sharpen our prophetic skills.
Meanwhile, let’s pay attention to the people God brings across our paths. You never know when you’ll be tapped on the shoulder to pass on a message from him.