I Didn’t Grow Up Dreaming One Day I’d Be A Prophet
When I was a little kid, I wanted to be Evel Knievel, or a police officer, or a fire fighter, or maybe an astronaut. I was sure I would work in a career playing for the Dallas Cowboys too. But by the time I was in high school, I was basically disillusioned with church. I certainly didn’t think then that I would find a career in prophecy when visiting my guidance counselor.
And the pay? Well, the job earns so little, they can’t afford to print up brochures featuring it.
I was in my mid twenties when I came back to church. And while there were some exciting features of that time in my life – in my faith – I still did not expect to take the path I found. But no doubt I came back with a critical eye. And the ironic thing, at least as I see it, is that when I went to Bible school, I did not expect to make a career of it, but I did hope that I might have valued input in my church… input I expected would prove supportive for those who preach.
Even then, the faith heritage I grew up in has practically no depth of understanding of, and no value for, prophecy. Most of what I have learned about it, I found without the help of my church, the academy, or any of my mentors. A little, sure, but not most. And so I did not grow up valuing or understanding either.
My involvement with prison ministry and street ministry – especially my involvement in ecumenical circles working in those areas – pushed me to imagine more fully how God works through prophets. I began applying the things I learned in one single college course, a handful of books, and one single seminar (a rare look at prophecy in church offered by a visiting preacher) to my work on the streets especially. I found power in symbols and rituals that had seemed so flat and two dimensional before.
But none of that seemed like a prophetic calling to me. I sensed that I was flirting with some deep ideas, alright, but I also sensed that I was like a toddler finding a loaded gun. I did not feel qualified, adequate, or even wise enough to embrace a prophetic calling. So I resisted it even though I gave it a lot of thought.
However, about that time I joined the homeless camping on the streets for over a year, and then joined Lubbock’s Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name) where I began volunteering, among other things as a chaperone during cold winter nights to host those without shelter under the roof of Jesus’s people. It was around this same time that Mrs. Agent X and I got married, and we embraced prophetic symbols in that ceremony seeking God’s blessing on our life together – a story you should look at if you haven’t before. See it here:
It was shortly after that wedding, and our second winter volunteering to chaperone the homeless, when suddenly leadership in our church arbitrarily refused to host the homeless on a cold winter night. Upon seeking verification about why such changes in policy were made, we were told there was a lack of available volunteers at first, but this was just not true. We had arranged for them already. And when leadership was confronted about this, I was told, “It’s a leadership decision, [Agent X], and you will just have to accept it”.
A leadership decision to break with long standing practice is one thing, but a leadership decision to break with a long standing practice/policy based on dishonest reasoning is another. A leadership decision to muscle a decision to break with God’s Word is another too. What response does a believer have with this?
Well, at first I began a series of meetings with the board of directors, but it quickly became clear they were supportive of the bad decision and not interested in being reasonable about it. I sought compromise with them (and looking back on it, I think that was ridiculous actually), but they weren’t having it. Weeks and weeks of negotiations did not yield even an inch of compromise. Both me and my position had NO VALUE.
It was in the midst of this pressure cooker, that I found myself looking much more seriously at the options. I decided to answer the prophetic all, if indeed God was calling, and invited a group of homeless men to come eat with me at my home, to pray on it, to study on it, and see if we might reach a consensus between us. One of the more divinely mysterious features of that moment happened to be that on the Sunday when this occurred, as I was preparing to invite a handful of individuals, the head guy from the board of directors, without knowing what I was doing at all, suggested to me that I go involve Agent J (the original Agent J) in the little group I was putting together. He still has no idea that God used him to select (elect) one of the founding members of the Fat Beggars School of Prophets, but he did. It was the best contribution the board of directors ever made to our mission!
In a matter of weeks, only a few meetings for prayer, our little group was perceived to be a threat, and an ultimatum was laid out by leadership that we disband or else I would be kicked out of the “church”. I never dreamed of being a prophet when I was a kid, and so when I found myself looking for the way to honor God when my “church” refused me all the usual avenues for it, I found myself answering the call. Sadly, this was a Leadership Decision “church” leaders just were not willing to accept.
And it seems they still aren’t.