Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Some bits of Christianity can feel a bit awkward.

You want to believe in them, but you can't help also feeling a bit guarded and cynical.

Yesterday, as we pulled away from the Christian college in the car, I felt great about my New Zealand odyssey. That day God had provided me with free food, a chance to dub-off my much-needed radio demo-tapes, and now here I was getting a free lift all the way back to Auckland Central, thanks to a prophesy conference there that several of the students were going to. It seemed like my NZ adventure had been preplanned-out by God, and all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.

In the car, the discussion was about how the Bible says that the Israelites' clothes didn't wear-out during their 40-year odyssey in the desert. One lady was supposing that, as they all grew older and got bigger, particularly the kids, then their clothes must have also miraculously stretched.

I contributed that they might have just swapped their clothes with each other. I found that this idea wasn't initially popular though, robbing the miracle as it did of some of its potential miraculousness. However one guy did concede that "sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one."

As we arrived in Auckland, I was invited to attend the prophesy conference with them. As I got out of the car, I was ambivalent. I wouldn't mind attending – it was something to do – but I was running a very tight budget. But then the guy declared that God had just told him that I should attend.

Boy, now I felt really bad. Was I going to spend the rest of my life letting others decide how I should spend my money? Letting others dictate my faith? Seriously – what was the right thing to do? I guess I wanted to believe in God, but I sure didn't want to believe in him, nice guy as he was.

I met one prophet last year, and with respect, I couldn't ignore how her statements would consistently agree with however her friend felt on the subject, even when her friend would later change her mind. I don't wish to belittle or misrepresent her – that's just what I observed on the occasions when I was present. Despite this paradox, she really seemed to believe in predestination.

Anyway, a moment later the guy returned to me and apologised. I think he could see how unhappy I was with the financial responsibility he'd just placed on my shoulders, and he emphasized that he sometimes thought things were from God, but they might not be.

Using my ANZ card for the first time, I decided to go in.

There was a fairly funny and motivational speaker at the front, who was joined by another guy who committed the unforgivable sin of implying that he was in Australia. Then he tried to dig himself out by drawing attention to it. Snigger.

After all the singing etc. was over, they would invite people to the front to be prophesied over by small groups of 3 prophets.

At some point in the weekend, I went forward and met a 20-ish boy, a 20-ish girl, and a friendly-looking retired woman who resembled my mum. I told them how I'd come over from the UK, and they told me that I wasn't actually supposed to tell them anything, they were supposed to prophesy over me anonymously.

And they said a ton of things, nearly all of which were positive, non-specific, and generic. With respect, they could have said all of those things to everyone they saw that night. I don't mean to belittle them at all, I believe they believed what they were saying, and have no wish to subtract from them, but the few things I can remember are as follows:

"I see you and God building a wall together."

"You are going to hold your head up high."

The retired lady told me that everything would work out for me so unexpectedly naturally. She said I'd go "Oh! That's so natural."

Anyway, that was all yesterday.

Today I was back at day two of the conference, lounging about in the foyer, when something completely unexpected happened – a complete stranger came up and greeted me by name.

But this was not divine knowledge speaking, it transpired that I had met her briefly yesterday back at the college. She was there to be one of the prophets in the latter half of the conference.

And this was the highlight of the weekend for me – that I got to sit down and just chat with someone who I 'knew.' I realised that such an ordinary chance-meeting just doesn't happen when your home is on the opposite side of the globe.

I said to her "I wish I could just get an email from God every day, that I could print-out and carry about with me as I did everything on the list."

She was full of encouragement, and said that she wasn't allowed to prophesy over anyone outside of the designated times in the meetings, yet towards the end of our conversation, it was very clear that she was.

Like the three people I'd met earlier, she was slipping into telling me several bite-sized statements, that could really apply to many people. One thing she said was "You've got to stop striving." Well, I could certainly buy-into that. Then she said,

"You are going to hold your head up high."

And two other things that were the same as what the three others had said to me.

As I headed back into real life again afterwards, I decided to take the encouraging words that had been spoken to me and dwell on them, whether they were from God or not.

After all, I needed the encouragement.


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