When I was in my early years of college, I was in a campus ministry group. We did ministry on campus and off, and ministered at various churches, even going to other countries for mission work. Often times, we would go to other churches’ services to help and to pray over people. We also went to conferences and events where the “big names” in ministry were, and they would lay hands and pray over us, sometimes “prophesying” over us. To be quite honest, I was skeptical of more than half of them; the things they preached didn’t sit well with me, and their so-called prophecies were general and feel-good messages.
During one of these events, though, a “prophet” prayed over me and spoke something over me I will never forget (I will almost always put that word in quotations, because I think true prophets are rare, rarely call themselves that, and you know them when you know them – beware of false prophets y’all, they’re everywhere).
As he went down the line of my friends and co-ministry workers, he prophesied over two that they would write books, one that she would go to the nations and some other great things, another that they would be a spiritual father to many, and other things like that. Naturally, I thought I would have something awesome like that to take home with me, too. I was super skeptical, but was open if he was going to say something like that over me. Who wouldn’t be, right?
But, when he got to me he paused. I’m tearing up as I type this because I remember it so vividly and my thoughts during that moment are forever imprinted on my heart as a warning.
“Ah, the skeptic,” he said. “You tried to talk yourself out of coming here three times this morning (nope). But that’s good, skeptical can be good for you.” He went on to say one thing, “You will be known by your character.” (Free-flowing tears now) I was so upset! He moved on to my other friend and said some great things over him, and I sat down feeling very unseen, embarrassed, unloved, and dejected.
What was wrong with me that I couldn’t write books or go to the nations? Why couldn’t I have those other things they were told they would have? Was it because I wasn’t the leader of the group? I mean, I was in leadership – I was in charge of the prayer table and sang in the worship team, and prayed over people and all of that! Why not me, Lord? It broke my heart. Notice the immaturity, pride, and “Eve-mentality” throughout those statements my heart made that day. *If a word like that breaks your heart, there is a much needed Jesus-overhaul that needs to happen right away, and repentance needs to be prescribed as treatment.
Today, my heart breaks that I didn’t have the sense to realize what a gem I was given in that word: “Known by your character.” I know for a fact that some of the things said over one of my friends that day never happened, as she died last year without the word being fulfilled. But her reward in heaven is far greater than the word that was prophesied over her being fulfilled in her lifetime ever would have given her. The other things for the most part did not happen (or have not been fulfilled yet). But, I am certain of one thing: the one word that has been and is continually being fulfilled is mine.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve done a lot of stupid things over the years. And then I was the wife of a Marine who didn’t like me to go to church and who hurt my children and me. I have been isolated from family, and for a time I lived my life in service to myself. In my mind, God and I had an understanding because I was a victim (though much by my own doing, which I was not ready to admit at the time). But, thank God for His Son Jesus and His saving grace. His patience has been my salvation.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”Romans 2:4
Through studying the Word, being in prayer, giving time to the Lord, and being willing to go through the guts of what used to be, I have made great strides. I have not made it, but I believe I am known by my character. The character of which I hope and pray exudes Christ.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”Philippians 3:13-15
There are false prophets everywhere, telling people what they want to hear. Be careful to test all things. Remember that God has already given us His Word and shown us His character. We know if we study the Bible and pray diligently we will know what is truth and what is a lie. Use discernment, test all the spirits, and don’t be so interested in the fame and fortune and feel-good messages and words of so-called prophecy that you miss out on what’s really important. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
There’s a prayer I love: “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). What I didn’t pay attention to was the verse prior said, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” (1 Chron 4:8a) If we want God to bless us and enlarge our territory, we had better make sure our character is that of honor. Otherwise we will fall to pieces.
Challenge: Find out what flaws you have by reading the Bible and as my pastor says, “Think of yourself as the villain. Don’t give yourself the benefit of the doubt.” Pray and ask God to show you your heart like He did with Hezekiah. And learn your weaknesses, the moments you lie, the times you feel jealousy or bitterness or “I deserve” attitudes. Submit to God.
May we be known by our character. May it be the character of Christ.