I have prayed some interesting prayers. I am not thinking about the time I asked God to cast a demon out of a black cat or which lotto numbers to play or even the time I asked him to go back through time and affect a certain situation. No, the instance that came to my mind today was a prayer I uttered about a year ago that sort of took me by surprise when I heard myself express it because I wasn't sure it was a very godly desire - it sounded so selfish and oddly egocentric. This was the prayer: God, I ask you to move on me and in my life in such a way that people look at me, and when they do, especially those people on the edge of faith in some way, they can see your love and power and your undeniable nearness to humanity. I wanted to be a signpost of sorts - but since that concept seemed to have a tinge of attention-seeking at its core, I left that prayer unattended and went on to petition other matters of importance like healing for those bruised and broken (even sometimes bitter souls) I love, wisdom and knowledge for those around me in difficult situations, and love to always be the biggest and bravest motivation for myself and others.
But something happened today that brought everything around into perspective. Since I did my first spiritual gifts test at age 13 I have been told countless times that I have the gift of prophecy. That basically means that you deliver God's message, but it also carries with it the idea that God shows you things that ordinary people do not know. Yes, I have had dreams about events before they happened, I have prayed for my friends far away and later found out something changed at that instant, I have seen visions and uttered strange things in public. I have also made grave errors in judgment and been unwise in my words - there is definitely a maturing one must go through in developing any skill or gift. Anyway, for whatever reason, the last few years have been relatively void of any flashy exciting incidents in the arena of prophecy for me. Perhaps I am not pursuing it as much as I should. Perhaps certain mistakes and situations initiated a setback. Perhaps moving to a different part of the country changed things in a certain way, or perhaps there are just seasons to these things. I don't think about it too much...God spoke to me when I was an immature child and he can still do so today.
Anyway...for the past year I have been struggling my way out of a cocoon of religious and self-imposed safety harnesses which have kept me moderate and palatable but hardly experiencing a life of adventure and freedom. And I have done so quite openly, everything from shaving my head (my way of symbolizing a fresh start) to talking about my disappointments, my questions and doubts, my desire to be and do more with my life, the tossing out of many of my biases and presuppositions and trying things for the first time like (gasp) beer and cigars and all kinds of meat (I am mostly a vegetarian) and finally having the courage to jump in the deep end of a pool without a lifejacket, and letting myself get attached to people even when I know that it will affect me profoundly and tear at my heart occasionally.
And over the past few weeks or so, numerous people have came up to me and communicated basically the same thing but at different times and in different ways. They have told me that they have been watching me for the past year and seen the changes in my life and it is an inspiring thing to see my pursuit of freedom. They have said that they love my attitude of being up for anything at anytime - if there is a chance God is in it, I want to be there. In discussions where I am questioning and grappling for a way to build something solid in my unraveled world, when I thought I was just going on and on about myself and my silly chaotic life, I have seen people respond because they were touched and challenged and moved, having not dared or known how to confront those questions themselves. When I have exposed my most naked and vulnerable unfulfilled desires, people have asked me to pray for them for they want the same things. It is a most humbling and somewhat startling experience to be hugged and embraced and kissed because you have chosen to walk out your awkward stumbling journey of faith in front of others and that it is somehow endearing and precious to them, a gift I did not even know I was capable of giving: to impart healing, wisdom, knowledge, and love by needing them myself.
And today while I was driving home from school, I again remembered that prayer of a year ago...to be someone people could watch and see the hand of God at work; to be a tangible illustration of the character of Someone so many find intangible. And I finally realized that I am indeed living the life of a prophet: not delivering awesome orations that predict the future, but allowing God to draw his character on my soul and not being afraid to bare it so that anyone who is watching may see.