I left the house this morning as the clock on the stove blinked 5:01, heading out for what has become a several-time-a-week ritual that I am calling the Morning Walk. It involves a couple of short podcasts, a cup of coffee, and about a mile of suburban Kansas City sidewalk. Around 5:10am, coffee still steaming, Garrison Keillor dropped one of those 'this date in history' things in my ears that pretty much shut down the iPod for the rest of the hike.
It turns out that on this day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclaimation. He'd been mulling it over for quite some time, and on September 17, 1862, when the Union soldiers stopped the Confederates at Antietam, it gave him the courage to finish writing and start talking. While he didn't issue the actual order until January 1, today is the day that he came above ground with his insistance that the slaves, were, in fact, free men who deserved the same rights and protections the constitution gave slave owners.
This morning, as I walked up the sidewalk, it struck me that while this was entirely true on September 22, 1863, we're still working out the details on September 22, 2006. Whether or not Lincoln knew it would take this long or not is not the issue. He knew truth and he spoke it, even if making it happen was out of his hands.
Lincoln wasn't just issuing a governmental decree - he was prophesying. He was speaking an unseen reality, knowing that his speaking it was integral to it going from ethereal truth to terra firma reality.
Lincoln had no idea how the Civil War would land when he issued the proclaimation. It was his hope that slaves, bolstered by his decree, would rise up and overthrow the evil system that kept them bound, although he had no guarantees (and ironically, many in his own camp feared this reality). It was his conviction that slavery was wrong, and even though the Emancipation Proclaimation was the farthest thing from a concillitory move, he knew it was necessary if the Union was ever to end the war.
There is an element of Godly leadership that demands prophesying - speaking the truth of God, even when all earthly indicators point the other direction.
I don't know what you're leading - a business, a church, a family- but my guess is there are at least a few earthly indicators that point to the negative side. Perhaps several. Perhaps all of them (been there...). Let me encourage you - prophesy what is true, even if it's not seen. Even if it's not likely. Even if those around you scream for your head on a platter (that happens to truth-speakers on occassion) - prophesy. Call it like He sees it. Whole. Healed. Victorious.
Yogi Berra once said "I never would have seen it if I hadn't believed it." Neither will you.
Step back, ya'll. I'm fixin' to prophesy.