An orange penumbra rested above the horizon behind me, fighting off the deep purple of night before me. Darkness would eventually win as the sun retreated further away from this side of the earth but for now, the light remained- an amber glow illuminated the street. A procession of tail lights glared at me and simply stated that I would not make it through the next stop light very soon. I checked my email, texted, played Words with Friends and then was bored. I shuffled through songs, trying to find something entertaining.

I looked up and noticed a pedestrian traipsing down the sidewalk. He and I were facing opposite directions. This person strode toward the vanishing light. He was talking. Nobody was with him. I looked for a bluetooth piece or a phone to indicate the presence of someone on the other end of his conversation. I turned the music off, rolled my passenger window down, and hoped to hear what he had to say as he passed my car.

As he drew near, I noticed that he was kind of dirty. His hair was greasy and wild. The jeans he wore had holes and black streaks on them- they weren’t the same kinds of holes and grunge that we pay to have, either. His clothes looked as if they’d been worn every day for a year, without a single wash. A large backpack loomed over his shoulders. Clearly, this man was homeless and was probably also a little crazy. Especially if he was talking to himself.

He lumbered closer to my car and I realized that I likely didn’t deserve to hear what he was saying. What if he was praying- conversing with the Almighty? I wanted to roll my window up, but figured that I’d give the impression of being afraid of him, so I hit play and turned the music back up. I avoided looking directly at him as he passed. He never stopped talking.

When I see frazzled, worn-looking people walking down the street mumbling to themselves, I sometimes imagine they’re prophets, carried by the gusts of God’s will and voice, transient in their messages and errands. I consider the men who spoke for God in the Old Testament and wonder how crazy Yahweh may have made them. Then I think about how they were treated by God’s own people,

…others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—  the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground (Hebrews 11:36-38 NIV).

Sometimes, I believe that prophets walk among us, not even knowing or understanding the gift God has given them. It doesn’t take one to tell us how much the Almighty loves us- that one’s clear. But how often do we reject those who inform us that we’re doing it wrong, that we need to repent and change? Nobody wants to hear that sort of message, though it’s more obvious than God’s own love. I pity the men and women whose God-given words are rejected by God’s own people. I guess if they desired acceptance, they’d preach the prosperity Gospel, wouldn’t they?

Have you ever had a run-in with someone who you thought might be a prophet?

Or was it just another crazy person?