'Lucy, I've got a prophetic word for you.' I was talking to a friend the other day, a deeply profound Christian with a keen sense of the holy, when she said this to me. So, I listened. Her words were wonderfully encouraging, but it was something she said at the end of the conversation - after she had related what she felt was the prophetic word - that made me blink, rapidly, a few times. I won't tell you what she said - but I will tell you why what was essentially an after-thought elicited such a response from me.
Six months ago, on a particularly bleak day, when things were very tough, I was praying. In my prayers I was telling God that he had to come and help me, because I'd pretty much reached the end of my own entrepreneurship, can-do spirit, vim and vigour. (If only we could bottle those things! Now that would be entrepreneurship!) And a thought came, fully formed, into my head and landed with a gentle plop into my heart. It was short, short enough that I can still remember it verbatim, hopeful, and, above all, real. Immediately, it was mine. It was a life-ring, a survival at sea pack complete with canned water and granola bars, and the glimpse of a distant ship, all at once. Given how wretched I was feeling at the time, to say that it made me feel slightly better is high praise indeed. I didn't tell anyone; it was mine to ponder, to hole up in my heart, a bit like Mary did with the angel's words.
A few weeks after that day, during a perfectly normal conversation with a perfectly normal person, the same short, hopeful and real words were used, to describe me. I was taken aback, as though the perfectly normal person had somehow been privy to the same divine secret that had been whispered to the ear of my spirit. A few months later, again, the same short, hopeful, and real words were repeated, again, to describe me. Taken aback turned into something approaching holy weirded-outness at this point.
So, to the prophetic word. Well, you can probably guess. After my friend had told me the prophetic word - which I still have to inwardly digest - she blurted out, at the end, the same short, hopeful, and real words. She is, as I say, a deeply prayerful Christian with a particular closeness to God; so is it really that surprising that she should overhear something of the divine conversation?
Some of us might be suspicious of the very idea of 'prophetic words'; some of us may be disillusioned, and rightly so, by shallow spirituality in which 'prophetic words' are the stock in trade of the huckster. Some of us might think that we simply haven't come across this type of thing before. But, if we haven't, that doesn't mean we haven't (if you see what I mean). It might just mean that we don't know when our words, or the words of others, echo the eternal conversation within the Godhead. Maybe we can't know that; maybe it's just as well that we don't, or we'd all be tempted to become shallow spiritual entrepreneurs. Maybe it's just on the odd occasion, maybe when we really need to know that God is closer to us than we could ever imagine, that we catch the glimpse of a passing ship and know that salvation is close at hand.