Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Prophetic Word from a Stranger

Friends, I want to share with you an encounter that changed the trajectory of my life. Here's what I wrote about it, near the time it happened. I keep the words on my nightstand, as you see in the photo. I hope it will inspire you, and serve as a reminder of the immanence of an intimate, benevolent God, always at work in our lives.


“Sometimes, God has a way of showing up unexpectedly,” said a stranger to me at the check-out lane at U.S. Toy two weeks ago.

Immediately when she said this, I thought of Peter, and responded with a knowing nod, “Yes, sometimes Jesus has a way of climbing into our boats, doesn’t he?”

This woman knew little about me. She worked at the store, had helped me locate Easter stickers and knew I was purchasing them for The Church of the Resurrection, where I worked. Beyond this, I’d told her nothing, She didn’t know I was in my third year of seminary, still questioning ministry. She had no idea that over the preceding weeks, some events had left me blindsided, obsessively doubting my calling and career. I hadn’t told her about the unrelenting, physical knot in the pit of my stomach with every agonizing question and frustrated prayer.

Nothing in my countenance at the check-out lane could reveal the aridity of my disoriented soul. But this woman had clear vision to see beyond appearances, and stretched out both her hands to grasp mine. “We can pray together right now,” she said suddenly, with a strange and stunning authority. Surprised by the invitation, I took her hands and closed my eyes, expecting a quick prayer. When I opened my eyes, she was staring intensely at me, and began to speak a rapid string of words with an odd cadence, which I scribbled down afterward in my car:

Your ministry is attached to you; you’re not going to lose it.
It’s finally time, you’re stepping into it now.
You’ve been asking and searching for it; now it’s time.
Your mentors couldn’t give it to you; now your mentors are in place.
May God equally yoke you with your husband; there are hedges of protection around your family.
St. Michael protects you.
You finally have the answer you’ve been seeking; you’ve been asking for it, haven’t you?
That thing going on in your stomach is going away.
I’m here to tell you that you’re on the right path. Know that you are on the right path.
Your ministry is attached to you. It’s attached to you.
This is what God said. Praise God.

I don’t know how or why this experience happened to me, but it utterly reoriented my soul with unearthly joy and peace. The pain I carried in my gut immediately dissolved and hasn’t returned. Her words reminded me how much we are deeply loved by God, and that we each –all of us, no exceptions–have a purpose, no matter how hopeless, lost, ill-equipped, broken, discarded or disoriented we feel.

I sense this is similar to how Peter felt before he leapt from his boat that day when Jesus showed up unexpectedly on the shore. Disoriented, untethered, gut-wrenched. But Jesus reorients him–three times, he echoes a mission. What I know about God-encounters is this: they’re always accompanied by a call. Whenever God shows off, we’re asked to show up.

All is well, Peter, you are whole again. Your ministry is attached to you–feed my sheep. It’s time, Peter. It’s finally time. You’re stepping into it.