Reach Back and Move Forward
In Yesterday’s post, Gina Gholston shared a powerful dream with us. It reminded us of our generation’s assignment to continue building a highway to the top of Kingdom Mountain. What others began, we must extend.
I’ll never forget the day God asked me to agree in prayer with a dead man!
“Lord,” I said, “is that really You speaking? He isn’t here; he’s in heaven.” In retrospect, it’s comical to try and explain something to the Lord, but I felt I needed to state the obvious.
“He’s dead, Lord.” I reiterated. “I can’t bring him back to pray with him.”
The response was simple, “But his prayers are not dead.”
That idea rocked me. Now, if you had asked if I thought the man’s prayers had died with him, I would have said “no,” but might have wondered if it was a trick question.
The Lord continued, “Until this generation comes into agreement with what this man asked Me to do, I can’t answer his prayer.”
This greatly impacted me, as I realized God hadn’t said, “I won’t,” as in “didn’t want to.” He had clearly said that without this generation’s agreement, “I can’t answer his prayer.” The idea of God saying He couldn’t do this really messed with me. I had to know more.
I began to ponder Hebrews 11, remembering the heroes of faith listed there along with some of their amazing exploits. However, we often forget that some of those faith heroes did not see the fulfillment of their promises. This has always seemed somewhat contradictory to me. When God searched history to accent great lives of faith, He chose to list some that did NOT receive the fulfillment of their God-given promises. These people went to the grave with unrealized promises from God, yet they had truly believed, even making it into the great Hall of Faith. Clearly, they weren’t deficient in their walk of faith; why then did they die without seeing the promises fulfilled?
The last verse of Hebrews 11 gives us the amazing answer. “Because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40 NASV). The Greek word translated as “perfect” also means, “to finish; to complete; to mature; to reach the intended goal.” They did not receive the fulfillment of their promises because God wouldn’t allow them to be complete without us. That is incredible! We, today, play a role in these individuals’ callings and assignments. Think about the ramifications of this: without us, God can’t finish what He began through these saints; what He started through them cannot mature or reach its intended goal until we grab the baton and run our leg of the race. That is mind-blowing!
God gave these individuals promises, but He didn’t give them timelines. He did not tell them He would bring the fulfillment in their lifetimes, although I’m sure most of them expected Him to do so. The eternal God, who transcends time, speaks promises that are sometimes more reflective of His nature and relationship with time than ours. At times, He makes promises to people, knowing full well He will deliver on those promises through their children, grandchildren, or spiritual descendants. I wonder what I may be finishing for a pastor or teacher from a few decades ago? Or perhaps even for some flag waving patriot warrior?
The generations are far more interconnected than most of us realize. In God’s mind, accomplishing something through our descendants is the same as doing it through us. Our comparatively shortsighted approach assumes every promise He makes will take place momentarily or at the very least before we die! We can’t fathom that a transcendent God might not share our urgency about the 80-year window we think of as life. Meanwhile, God feels no pressure and understands that if He fulfills His promises through our offspring, the accomplishments were for us, as well as for them.
Conversely, the opposite is true. The Scriptures tell us that the credits and blessings from what we accomplish now can be reaped by our descendants. Hebrews 7:9 states that the descendants of Levi paid tithes through their great, great grandfather Abraham. They didn’t actually sow the tithe - grandpa did. But they shared the reward. I wonder what blessing we’re experiencing today that someone else paid for! As mind-stretching as this can be, there is an aspect of our spiritual walk that stretches beyond the boundaries of our window on earth. We can connect spiritually with things that occurred before us, and we can contribute to things that will happen in the future. Our prayers know no bounds, as long as we are open to thinking about time from God’s perspective, rather than our own.
But Holy Spirit wasn’t finished instructing me in this prayer session. He had a seven-word phrase with which He intended to rock my finite mind. These seven words stretched my thinking yet again, and have resonated in me ever since: “I need the synergy of the ages.”
“You need WHAT?” I immediately responded.
It is obvious by now that this prayer time was wreaking havoc on my preconceived concepts and paradigms! Holy Spirit was making me think outside of my God-limiting boxes.
What is synergy of the ages? I quietly wondered.
Synergy is a fascinating concept. Think of it as a multiplication of power through combined effort. In almost all cases in the physical world, one plus one equals two. But not when people work together. When two or more people combine their efforts and strengths, power is multiplied - not just added. God so loves unity and agreement that He created a phenomenon through which power multiplies when we simply work together!
Synergy doesn’t operate only in the natural realm; it also takes place in the spirit realm. Prayer is one example. Spiritual synergy takes place when two or more agree in prayer. The result is that through multiplied power, much more is accomplished than would have been had we prayed alone. Leviticus 26:8 teaches us about the power of multiplication, “Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before your sword.” Something unusual and supernatural takes place through agreement - synergy. When we agree in prayer, our power grows exponentially.
Synergy also occurs when generations connect. Honoring our parents multiplies our years on earth (Ephesians 6:1-3), while disconnecting from them brings forth curses (Malachi 4:6). Spiritual mantles, another word for callings and giftings, multiply in effectiveness through generational synergy (2 Kings 2:9). God’s plan is always for the present generation to build on the strengths of the previous. This is the synergy of the ages - multiplied power through generational agreement and honor.
In Al Sanders’ book Crisis in Morality! He compares descendants of an atheist, Max Jukes, to the offspring of a well-known preacher of that same era, Jonathan Edwards:
Max Jukes…married an ungodly girl, and among their descendants were 310 who died as paupers, 150 as criminals, 7 as murderers, 100 as drunkards, and more than half of the women were prostitutes.
Jonathan Edwards…lived at the same time and married a godly girl. An investigation was made of 1394 known descendants of theirs. Of these descendants, 13 became college presidents, 65 college professors, 3 United States senators, 30 judges, 100 lawyers, 60 physicians, 75 army and navy officers, 100 preachers and missionaries, 60 authors of prominence, one a vice-president of the United States, 80 became public officials…and 295 college graduates, among whom were governors of states and ministers to foreign countries.(1)
When Holy Spirit spoke to me that day, I was already aware of synergistic prayer. I knew I could agree in prayer with the person next to me and multiply power (Matthew 18:19). I just didn’t know I could agree with the generation behind me! Generational synergy - the synergy of the ages - was nowhere on my radar.
Time is so much more connected than we realize. The Second Great Awakening isn’t over; it is just on pause until the third wave hits. Billy Graham’s evangelism isn’t finished; thousands of flaming evangelists are about to grab his baton. And freedom’s torch hasn’t gone out; its embers simply await the fresh wind of Holy Spirit.
Reach back…and move forward!
Pray with me:
Father, our shortsighted vision - in both directions - causes us to overestimate our role and underestimate that of others. We are but a link in the chain, a runner in Your great relay race. Heaven’s great cloud of witnesses is hoping we grab the baton. We commit to You today that these forefathers of ours will not have run in vain.
Cause a force deep in our DNA to respond to this challenge. Like a salmon being drawn by an invisible force back to the place of its birth, may Your eternal purposes arise in our hearts, causing us to reach back, grab hold, and run ahead. We are an eternal company, joined in spirit, united in purpose.
Send now another wave of revival, another blast of Your breath, another surge of Kingdom power. Revive us again. We are confident this is coming - we are agreeing with You, not begging You. We are Your family, partners, and friends - not hirelings. Onward, upward, and forward is our determined aim. Your pleasure is our reward.
In Christ’s authority, we pray. Amen
We declare that we will reach back and move forward; we will honor the past, build on the past and finish the past.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Quoted in Leonard Ravenhill. “Jonathan Edwards: Portrait of a Revival Preacher,” Dayspring, 1963. www.everlast.com/about