One of my favorite musical lines is heard in an upbeat song, sung by Dorothy Norwood and the Georgia Mass Choir, entitled “Somebody Prayed for Me“. The line that draws me in and comforts me often is “my mother prayed for me, had me on her mind and took the time to pray for me,…I’m so glad she prayed for me.” It blesses me every time I hear it. Immediately, I am transported back to the day Mommie transitioned from earth to eternity. As you can imagine, I was emotionally and physically drained. On that day, God allowed a rain storm to pass through, which lulled me into some much needed sleep. When I woke from the nap, there remained a steady stream of showers, but the clouds were fluffy and white. Alone and peering out the window, I heard the Spirit say, “You weren’t the only one who had a prayer. Your mother also had a petition before Me. It was: ‘I can’t leave this world until I know my baby’s okay.’” When she departed, she was at peace concerning that petition. She believed I would be okay; and, I am. When life has my back up against the wall and I feel overwhelmed, I remember her words: “I believe you’re going to be alright.” Then, I press forward in agreement with her words. She believed God concerning her life, and mine. The faith she had was (and is) an example to me. As I remember what was, I am able to move forward in the same confidence she exhibited in our Creator-Sustainer-God.
My experience causes me to think about the Children of Israel and the constant reminder throughout scripture of God’s faithfulness towards Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Exodus 2:24 records God remembering “His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” This appears to me as a call to worship and reverence of God for what he had done, and provides a springboard for the Israelites to remain mindful of what God could (and would) do for them going forward. Isn’t it interesting how a passage of scripture can address the past, present and future?
For a while, it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around certain scriptures which seem to address past, present and future in a way that didn’t make immediate sense. Those that come to mind are Isaiah 43:18-19, John 4:23-24, and Hebrews 13:8. In them, a thing is referred to as coming and yet already is. The latter is a description of Jesus. The more I read these passages, the more I sought to understand their meaning. I prayed for clarity and the Holy Spirit imparted understanding. Interestingly enough, He used the explanation author Toni Morrison gave of her writing style to make it plain to me. [Sidebar: Because God wired you a particular way, He knows how to answer your petitions specifically to your need.] Ms. Morrison gave an example of how humans think and process. She spoke of washing a sink of dishes (present), thinking of what to prepare for dinner (future), and seeing one’s grandchild through the window and remembering one’s own childhood (past). This happens without forethought and is natural–it is part of one person’s experience in a moment in time. To that end, just as God sees the entire “picture,” His word (from His eternal, infinite, perspective) speaks of past, present and future the same because it is the same for Him (Isaiah 46:9-11); there is no delineation between them.
It was equally challenging to make sense out of the admonition to forget (Isa 43:18, Phi 3:14) when I constantly read passages where the Israelites were told to remember. I didn’t understand clearly, at first, but now I do. In a nutshell, we are not to live in–dwell or get stuck–in the past. Ideally, the past is our proof of God’s promises and His ability to fulfill them all. What is forgotten is the sting of trauma, or the sense of defeat and hopelessness that may have plagued us long ago. We are to use the past (our remembrances) to propel us into God’s promised future (Jer 29:11). From where we are, presently, we are to remember forward.
It is the character and nature of God that does not change. It is “the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).” God does not forget His promises (Lev 26:42); He has only promised to forget our confessed sin. Just as God remembered His promise to the patriarchs and responded to their cries for deliverance (Exo 2:24), He hears your plea. In fact, He heard it before it passed from thought to utterance (Isa 65:24). Manifestation occurs when we operate in faith; when we agree with the word of God. I understand this, because every time I recall Mommie’s words and agree with them, my resolve is strengthened: I am alright! It was true when she first spoke the words; it is true now; and, it will hold true in the future. Mommie’s prayer continues to keep and cover me; because of it, she was able to die and I am able to live (see 2 Kings 13:23). –WordsInPrint by Suni