Years and years ago, I wanted to be a prophet. God began giving me prophetic words in church. As time went on, I decided I should trust God in new ways so that my prophetic gift would grow. More than once, I gave prophetic words to people I barely knew.
One time, as I prayed at home, God led me to pray for a woman who worked at a coffee shop I frequented. God prompted me to write a word for her. At one point as I wrote, I felt like the Lord was saying to her, “I saw you crying last night.” I paused. What if that wasn’t God? Being wrong about something so specific could discredit the whole word. I decided to trust God and leave the phrase.
A few days after I gave her the word, the woman pulled me aside and said she’d been struggling with depression. The night before I gave her the word was particularly dark, and she’d spent hours sobbing. The fact that the word was so specific about her situation really ministered to her, and was a sign that God was speaking. I was thrilled and relieved. I started to believe there was a prophetic calling on my life.
Not long after this amazing experience, I was reading Galatians chapter one. As I read about Paul preaching the gospel he received by revelation, the Holy Spirit dropped on me like a hammer. I found myself awestruck by the gospel. Yes, the plain old gospel. The message about Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less.
The Holy Spirit filled me with the knowledge of how incomparable the gospel is. There is no greater message. I began to see prophetic messages for the lesser things they were.
“The testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).
“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1).
So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
These and other verses began to stand out and make sense. Christ is the reality of prophecy, not just its fulfillment. Prophecy is something partial–like the law–that leads us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). Prophecy is a lamp that helps us see until the Son rises within.
That said, prophecy continues to have value. God still gives me prophetic words at times. Prophecy is a gift God uses to build up the church (1 Cor. 14:3). But my prophetic ambitions ended that day as I read about the gospel in Galatians. I repented of esteeming prophecy above the gospel, and pledged myself to preaching the gospel–if God would allow me that privilege.
My prayers now are not for prophetic words that I can deliver to people, though I deliver them if the Lord wants. My prayers now are that we grow out of prophecy; that the body matures into the fullness of Christ and puts childish things away (1 Cor. 13:9-11; Eph. 4:13).