In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul teaches about the different ways Holy Spirit releases His gifts through us. One of the gifts mentioned is a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8). A word of knowledge is when we know something that we didn’t learn with our physical senses but Holy Spirit reveals it to us. It is one of our “superpowers” from God which enables us to live supernaturally in this natural world.
So how does this mystical gift work in real life? What does partnering with Holy Spirit on the job and in our everyday world actually look like? To answer that question, I want to share an incredible testimony from a real life superhero – a schoolteacher named Brian McLaughlin.
We met Brian in person earlier this year when his church hosted a dream workshop. Before that we had emailed a few times regarding some of his amazing visions of the night. Brian had listened through my CDs four times (!) and was very proficient at decoding his dreams already, but we had fun working together to more fully mine the symbolic revelation hidden within.
Now I teach that for most people, most of the time, dreams are symbolic and metaphorical. However, we know God can certainly speak literally loud and clear as well. I’ve asked Brian to share one of his dreams where God downloaded accurate, literal information about one of his students so he could intervene in his time of need.
“I had a student (let’s call him Frankie) who would come by after school every day to visit before he went home. Frankie was always smiling, easygoing, and kind to everyone. One day he came into my classroom with a different demeanor. He was quiet and withdrawn. When I asked him what was going on, he wouldn’t open up to me. All of this was very unusual, and I had a feeling this wasn’t a simple matter of a breakup with a girlfriend or the stresses of school. He was like this again the next day, and once again I could not get him to tell me what was wrong.
“When I was getting ready for bed that night, I asked God for a dream that would help me minister to Frankie. I had a very simple dream that was very easy to interpret, because it wasn’t symbolic – it was a word of knowledge!
“In the dream, I was standing in front of Frankie. He walked over to me and looked directly into my eyes. He said ‘I secretly hate myself. I have a hard time believing that there’s anything good about me. And sometimes I even wonder if I’m really evil.’ With that, I woke up. I didn’t have to wonder what that dream meant! I thanked God and typed up the dream on my phone before I went back to sleep. I was deeply touched that God honored my request to help my student so quickly.
“Frankie came into my classroom that day and we started talking. He was a little more open. I didn’t say I had a ‘word from God’ or share my dream. Instead, I asked him if he had a hard time finding good things about himself. ‘Yes,’ he said. I then asked him if he secretly hated himself. ‘Yes.’ Finally, I asked him if he sometimes wondered if he were really evil. ‘Yes.’
“I couldn’t believe it! This boy was always so happy and smiling on the outside that I assumed all was well on the inside. That was just a veneer, hiding his inner struggle. That started a great conversation between us that was open and freeing. He talked about some things he hadn’t shared with me before and we bonded closer together. It started a series of conversations about his mental health and the way he saw himself that I believe were very important in his life.
“Without God sharing this word of knowledge, I would have never known how to help this young man I cared so much about.”
A model to follow
Awesome! The gifts of the Spirit – such as word of knowledge or healing or prophecy – are always to demonstrate the fruit of His Spirit – that is, God’s extravagant love. Brian felt God’s heart of compassion and so easily flowed in God’s power of supernatural knowledge.
This reminds me of Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew, and we have previously explored his dreams that saved Jesus’ life. Over and over we see that it was because Joseph received a word of knowledge in his dreams – delivered by an angel – that he was able to protect baby Jesus. Makes you wonder what kind of revelation God is downloading to you while you sleep!
I also appreciate Brian’s approach in that he didn’t come right out and tell Frankie he’d had a dream about him. We never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable so we don't present what God reveals as if we have inside knowledge or God told us their secrets. The goal is to make them feel known without making them feel exposed.
This is a model for us and there are four key ways Brian purposefully positioned himself to receive from Heaven.
- He felt God’s heart of concern and compassion for his student.
- He was intentional, and specifically asked God to give him a dream.
- He was quick to honor the revelation he received and recorded it immediately in the middle of the night.
- Finally, he acted on that information. He ministered Father’s heart of encouragement and comfort in a thoughtful way, letting him know that he wasn’t alone.
I hope we all follow Brian’s example and live sensitive and aware of the needs of those around us. I pray we all walk more fully in divine compassion that we might walk more fully in divine power. May we all live into our supernatural inheritance as children of God and release His life, light, and love to everyone in our world!