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You Did What?!?

Bonnie and I attended a fledgling local church in the late 90's. The pastor was an energetic man about ten years my junior. He had stopped by our home one evening to invite us to join his church, setting me in as an associate pastor. Bonnie and I moved in the prophetic gift there, which he appreciated and welcomed. What I didn't know was that he had decided on a plan to make use of that gift.

Without mentioning it to Bonnie or me, he decided to schedule and publicize a "prophetic presbytery", renting a large conference room at a local hotel. Have you heard of such a thing? I certainly never had! Yet, he informed my wife and me that we would be participating in it. Up front. Prophesying over people! "You did what?!?" I asked.

He assured us he had invited an older gentleman, an impressive man of God from Rochester, to head up the event. Yet, we were going to be standing beside him, and working with him, for the whole evening. We were stunned. I remember I cried out to the Lord for days for help. "We would never have planned such a thing, Lord," I prayed. "Nor would we have penciled ourselves in up front. But, I also don't want to be a coward. If this is Your will, please give us the grace to enable us to do this!"

The evening prior to the big event, I stopped by the home of a couple that Bonnie and I looked up to in the Lord. We had known them for over a decade, and knew how skillful they both were at moving under the anointing. So, I stopped in, looking for encouragement, insight and prayer.

The husband welcomed me into his living room and listened attentively to my plight. "I've never done anything like this," I lamented, "In fact, I rarely give personal prophesies - I usually utter words to encourage the whole congregation." As for Bonnie, I told him she gave personal prophesies more often than I did, but she studiously avoided the spotlight. Yet, this would put her front and center for a few hours!

As I was speaking (okay, I was whining), his wife happened to come down the stairs. We said hello to each other as she came into the room. She walked through the middle of the room, between us, from my right to left. As she passed by me, I suddenly called out her name, and said, "The Lord says you are a woman of excellence!" She stopped and turned toward me as I continued. "I saw you just now as a flower planted by the Lord. You know how when you plant flowers, you loosen the soil around and under the roots as you plant it, so the roots have room to grow? I saw the Lord do the same for you! You already are established, but the Lord has made room for you to grow even more!"

Her eyes welled up with tears as she stood there. "I can't believe you just said that," she replied, "A friend of mine and I just started a devotion together, with a book entitled "Becoming a Woman of Excellence"! I don't remember much more of that conversation from nearly twenty years ago, but I do remember looking at the husband and laughing as I said, "Well, I guess the Lord just showed me tomorrow night will work out fine!" They prayed for us and the upcoming event before I left.

Sure enough, that "prophetic presbytery" went very well. Prophet Davidio led and was a marvel, yet Bonnie and I also flowed in the prophetic all night long. The event began at 7pm, and we were still blessing people with words from the Lord after 11pm. Multiple people shared with us how the words given to them encouraged them. Thankfully, many of the words bore a divine fingerprint - by us putting our finger on something they had been praying about, or worried about, or by using a turn of a phrase they themselves had used in prayer, or that they had heard shortly before that evening.

I am still grateful for that encounter with the Lord, and for Him stretching Bonnie and me in that way. The gifts of the Spirit are still given to the church and need to be worked in the congregation. There are good reasons why the psalmist, inspired by the Lord, cries out "Forget not all His benefits!" (Ps 103:2) I, too, want to remind us: Though we're merely jars of clay, still we have treasures from God poured into us (2 Cor 4:7) - treasures meant to be shared. As it is written, "the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort." (1 Cor 14:3) and "the one who prophesies edifies the church." (1 Cor 14:4) This is why it is written, "as each one does its part, the body grows in love." (Eph 4:22)

© Matthew Schilling July 2017

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