God’s promise to my mother

From the day we got married to today, Ray and I have committed to studying one chapter of the Bible together every week night. For the most part, with the exception of one of us being away from home or nights we are too tired to see straight, we’ve been faithful to that commitment and have since managed to finish the entire New Testament and a few Old Testament books together. We’re currently working our way through Exodus, and I happened to catch the itch to blog about it, so here goes…

God keeps His promises

One of the most remarkable things about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is that it demonstrates that God’s promises don’t necessarily need to come to pass in your lifetime to be fulfilled. As far as God is concerned, once He promises something, He doesn’t take His words back. Any word He’s spoken will not return to Him void. It will accomplish what He sent it to do before it returns to the Father.

Even if we fail to keep up our end of the bargain, as human typically tend to do, He is faithful to keep His word because He’s not human. No, He demonstrates that His promises, just like His very nature, supersede time. He can give whatever He promised you to your great, great grandchildren and still consider that promise fulfilled. You may have disqualified yourself from receiving the promise, but that doesn’t nullify the deal… it just postpones it.

Take for instance the Israelites. Though God was undoubtedly aware that they would eventually lose out on their opportunity to enter the promised land, He still made every effort to keep them from missing it. Why? Because He had made a promise to Abraham. He could have led the people through Philistine territory, the shorter route, but He knew they would turn back if they faced war too soon (Exodus 13:17-18). Pharaoh came to recapture them, but the Lord himself stood between the two armies while the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Throughout their journey through the wilderness, we continually see God say to Himself, “These people are stiff-necked and I can tolerate them no longer… BUT I made a promise to Abraham. For his sake, I’ll continue on with them.” On and on and on, the story continues and God keeps giving these guys chance after chance to be the people to cross the threshold of the promised land.

We know the story. They didn’t.

But their children did. The promise was still fulfilled.

Jeannette Michelle Curtis

Now let me take the liberty of comparing these stories to my relationship with my mother. If you didn’t get the chance to know my mother before she passed, let me describe her a bit for you. Nearly six feet tall, Jeannette Michelle Curtis possessed a very commanding demeanor and equally strong personality. Her fiery glance alone could be enough to make a child fear for his life when she caught his attention by snapping her fingers at him in the middle of a church service, but her heart was full of love and the kind of warmth that always caused her to be found with kids underfoot. She was passionate about a lot of things, but she especially had a love for the arts, children, worship, prayer, and Africa.

My mother was a nationally known poet and playwright (she’s even made the “Who’s Who” list) while she was in college, but when she decided to pursue family instead of a national tour, she made sure to utilize whatever resources my father’s hometown could give her, and she continued putting on small plays here and there.

My parents both were known throughout the city as Mama Bear and Papa Bear because of a children’s program they started called “The Good News Bears”. It had quite a long run and it reached a great number of kids, but then they got into full-time ministry as they became pastors of their own church, and though they still set apart Saturday nights for kid’s church, they weren’t able to pursue children’s ministry to the extent that they had in the past.

The list of interests and dreams my mother had could go on for days, but I’ll add just one more.

For as long as I can remember, my mother had a fascination with Africa. Whenever African evangelists would come to Salina, Mom would not only be in attendance, but she would offer to host them so she could pick their brains. As a child I benefited from this greatly, especially since one of the evangelists we had hosted since I was 14 was my husband’s uncle James Murunga. Whenever he came to town, I would ask him questions about Kenya and the Bible until my mom sent me to bed.

I mention these things, specifically the Africa bit, because I want to give some context for what comes next.

I am my mother’s child

Let’s start with my first trip to Africa. It was 2006, and I was traveling to South Africa with Teen Mania Ministries. Everyone had to meet in Texas for training before heading over, so my dad and youngest brother drove me to Kansas City to catch my plane. We stayed the night in a hotel, and in the morning my dad told me about a dream he had. In his dream my mother, who had passed away almost two years prior, met him in the airport. He was so excited to see her alive and wanted to bring her back home and show everyone she was alive. But mom insisted that she needed to get on that plane because she was called to Africa. She got on the plane and was gone.

My father told me that he felt like the dream was assuring him that I was carrying out my mother’s dream and that the trip wasn’t just about me fulfilling my own dreams, but hers as well.

I believe my dad was right about that dream and its application to my life, but I have also come to believe that it’s even more than that.

See, I always felt like I was born with so much favor on my life. People would tell me all the time that there was something “set apart” about me, and both they and I had myself convinced that it was because God was just really into me. As true as that may be (I mean, He’s into everyone of course), I now realize that the favor I’ve lived in has really had nothing to do with me, but more about God keeping His promise to my mother through me. She was my Abraham and as her only daughter I became the recipient of her covenant to God. I’m not saying my other siblings haven’t received benefits from her and my father – by the way – I’m just saying that God knit my heart to my mother’s in a way that I can’t comprehend. It feels like every day I find her when I look in the mirror, I hear her in my voice, and sense her passions fueling the fire of my own.

God gave my mother a lot of dreams, and it seems that the life I’m living today is the fulfillment of so many things she started. Like our ministry (The Joshua Blueprint) combines children’s ministry with the arts and worship as we train kids to use their talents to glorify God. My heart has also been for Africa, and now for the past two years I’ve been living here, getting the chance to love on some of the people my mom’s heart yearned to meet. My dad also told me when my Nashville-based EP came out that he cried the first time he listened to it because making an album was something my mom had always wanted to do, and he could hear her voice as I sang. Once again he affirmed that I was fulfilling a dream my mother had.

This has probably been a long stream of rambling, but my point is that I know the Lord has given me specific dreams and promises apart from my mother, but I just feel like this perspective has brought me to a new place of humility. No longer can I look at what God has done or what He’s doing in my life and believe that it’s because I’m anyone great in the kingdom. No, I am the least. It’s because of my mother’s relationship with God that I was set apart from birth and led into the life that I’m living now. It’s because God made a promise to her and for whatever reason, He decided to fulfill it through me and maybe even my children. I know our kids will be blessed because of the path their grandmother paved for them, and I thank God for giving me the mother He did and I pray that my husband and I are able to carry out her legacy to the fullest. I know she deserves it, and apparently God thinks so too.