Prophecy and the Awkward Side of Obedience

John Flowers Evangelism, Hearing God, Overcoming Fear, Walking with God Leave a Comment

by John Flowers

I am 100% confident in the outcome of the prophetic word that I felt led to deliver the other night. I was obedient to release the word. Boom. Nailed it.

I’m not 100% confident in the accuracy or how it was received. The person didn’t seem to resonate with, or confirm the word, and didn’t seem to want to keep the conversation going. I’m fine with that. I don’t control anyone, and can’t make prophecy turn out a certain way in someone’s spirit and soul. Only Abba can do that.

Let’s go back. Way back. I didn’t grow up around people practicing the charismatic gifts. I didn’t even believe in them. But I kinda wanted to.

After a wild trip to New Orleans, I was fully convinced that all of the charismatic gifts were alive and well today. I just didn’t know what to do with them. So, I began learning. I went to churches, conferences, and watched other people exercise the gifts.

My experiences with hearing God through various means (emotional and physical impressions, thoughts, pictures, scripture, and song) were established outside the church in the city where I lived. We decided to do an outreach every single Thursday night as a church plant. We would walk down Main Street on one side, and back up on the other side, trying to pick up on what the Lord was doing along the way. I mostly watched the first few months.

We met the most interesting people of all walks of life. It really helped me to begin seeing people differently. To see the dignity and “imago dei” (image of God) in each life in front of me. It was extremely challenging. I had to get rid of a lot of the prejudices I had picked up along my way to take up the perspective of the King and His Kingdom. 

When a word or impression would come, I would feel both nervous and responsible for doing something with it. God just talked to me! Which seemed really cool right up until I actually had to open my mouth and do something about it. 

(If there was a collegiate sporting event for awkwardness I would have medaled every single year.)

So, what happens when a person skilled in the “art of awkward” feels the burden of Abba to release the heart of God? It wasn’t pretty. 

“Hey, do you have cheese in your house?”

[deer in headlights look]

“No.”

[immediately walking away]

“Perfect! Have a great…. Ok, bye, see you later, maybe, probably not, right?” 

[palm to forehead]

*Not actual dialogue as I have erased the file from my memory.

I was not prepared for being responsible to deliver Abba’s heart to someone else. Part of the equation is me learning to hear God’s voice, and practicing being filled with love and grace for others in how I communicate. This gives them the best chance of receiving the message. Everything else is out of my control.

So, I kept practicing. I didn’t allow the immediate “results” that I could see to outweigh the potential of what I had experienced in the past. 

It is hard feeling like you miss a lot of prophetic words. I had to learn from Luke 10:16 that when someone rejects the words that I say, they aren’t rejecting me, they are rejecting the outstretched hand of Jesus. When they embrace the words that I say, they are embracing the heart of Abba moving toward them. 

I cannot afford to confuse my role in the entire interaction. If I put myself in the center of the prophetic moment, as a crucial piece to the puzzle, then the perceived outcome is determined by my emotions. Do I feel encouraged and enthusiastic, or rejected and dejected?

If I can remove myself from the center of the moment and allow Christ to be the center, then I can rightly perceive the whole situation. This is the parable that Jesus told about the servant who didn’t get congratulated for simply doing the job that was given to them by the Master (Luke 17:7-10). 

We don’t get extra credit for doing our assignment. When we look for applause or approval in prophetic ministry, we are short-changing the reward of God. We don’t get to satisfy ourselves, then have Abba reward us with a second helping. We choose who is in charge of our reward. It is either Abba or us.

Sometimes, we get a prophetic word that is daunting – the person could be famous, someone super familiar to us, or the situation is way outside of our comfort zone.

In the Summer of 2018, I was at a beach-side restaurant on the Isle of Palms. I was with my family, my parents, and my sister’s family on a vacation. When we were waiting for our table, I kept noticing the backpack of one of the people in line in front of us. I had a sense that Abba was highlighting that individual. I kept asking for a word.

I was half way through a 2-person plate of delectable chicken nachos, and I still didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Not even a whiff of a prophetic word.

The awkwardness rundown:

  • person appears very different from me
  • don’t know how they would perceive or receive me
  • with 5 friends
  • my childhood family hadn’t seen me prophecy in public before
  • I smell like nachos and sunscreen

I knew I had to do something. 

[Ok, Lord, help me…]

I got up from my nachos, didn’t say a word to my family, and walked over to their table.

[Seriously, help me Holy Spirit…]

I didn’t have anything to go on yet, but as soon as I got to the table, it hit me. A random thought that I should not have had about the people at the table. A bass guitar appeared in my mind.

“Hey, can I bother you all for a moment?”

“Yeah.”

“Does one of you play the bass guitar?”

“He does.” (pointing to not-the-backpack-person… at least there was confirmation that I was on the right track)

“Wow, I felt like I was supposed to encourage your creativity!”

I encouraged them as I was led by Holy Spirit.

I asked if I could simply practice encouragement on them. They seemed interested. 

Then I turned to the backpack owner. I told them that really I felt like they were the most highlighted for receiving encouragement. I don’t remember how the rest of it went, but I know that God was able to let that person know that they are not only loved, but seen by Him, even if they don’t know how they feel about God right now. They received it really well, and so did the whole table. Praise the Lord! 

God’s children got to see a slightly awkward but loving display of His goodness from a total stranger. My obedience was not noteworthy or praiseworthy. It was what was expected of me since I had been practicing stewarding the prophetic for several years. 

11 years in, I’m still learning and growing in my ability to clearly hear and represent Abba. I keep practicing being obedient more and more quickly. Keep practicing removing myself from the center more and more. I can’t offer anything that He hasn’t given me in the first place! 

What are you waiting for? Awkwardness is no excuse. 

It is time to “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” 

John shares wild stories about seeing all of the spiritual gifts displayed in 24 hours in New Orleans.
John Flowers

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