“How do we tell the false prophet from the true prophet? The true prophet seldom predicts the future. The true prophet warns us of our present hardness of heart, our prideful presuming to know God’s mind. The final test of the true prophet is love. A mark of the true prophet in any age is humility, self-emptying so there is room for God’s Word.” —Madeleine L’Engle in A Stone for a Pillow (Shaw Books, 2000).
We owe so much to Madeleine L’Engle and her books for children—which are even better for adults. Perhaps what I will remember the most, however, is the fact that her award-winning 1963 Newbery selection, A Wrinkle in Time, was rejected twenty-six times before it was published and became an instant science fiction classic!
L’Engle is telling us how we recognize authentic prophets and also how we know we are speaking with a prophetic voice. But there is more. I never know with any certainty when I am doing God’s will at the time; but I can sometimes realize afterwards that something was God’s will.
L’Engle’s thoughts can be helpful here. If my action is all about me, I must ponder if this is really God’s will. We are most likely to hear the voice of God when we are in a place of humility, of self-emptying. If an action of mine is done in love or flows from love, that is a good sign that it may express God’s will. But Madeleine L’Engle is telling us most of all that if we think we are doing God’s will—especially if we feel pride that we are on the right track—we need to stop and reconsider.
So, it’s a great mystery. If we think we have it, we don’t. If we don’t think we have it, we may. I keep remembering that previous helpful quote: “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.”
Just in time for the holidays
A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany
The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter
Both are $18
All Money from sale of the books goes either to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in the Diocese of Central Gulf Coast