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  • Shawn Thornton

He Knows

Tuesday - September 15th

Scripture to Read Today: Psalm 139:1-6

Omniscient: knowledge encompassing every possible thing that exists, has ever existed, or will ever exist

Day 15 of 30 Days of the Names and Attributes of God

Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Psalm 139:4


When I was a kid, our family loved sit-coms. They gave us an escape from the chaos we often experienced as a result of my Mom's physical, emotional, and mental troubles due to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). We often escaped through the television to war-torn Korea and the 4077th MASH unit's cast of characters, to a deserted island with a group of castaways and a guy named Gilligan, or to an apartment in 1950's New York City where Ricky loved Lucy. One of our favorite escapes involved another New York City location - a taxi garage with characters like Louie, Alex, Tony, Latka, Jim, and Elaine. Laughing was an excellent way to get beyond some of the tension in our home. The show Taxi gave us plenty of laughs.

Twenty to twenty-five years after Taxi went off the air, I caught a talk show interview with Marilu Henner, who played taxi driver Elaine Nardo on the show. Henner was specifically being interviewed about a strange memory disorder from which she suffers. To some, her condition might seem like a superpower, but it has been nothing like a superpower for Henner. She has a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), a rare condition shared by only 100 people worldwide. Henner is one of six known Americans with HSAM.

People with HSAM perform similarly to their peers on most standard memory tests. Where they are extraordinary is in their ability to recall the events of their own lives and others around them. They can identify those events by the specific dates and days when they occurred. Again, this condition is unique. Henner can be given a date in a particular year decades after the date and remember what she had for lunch that day or the weather conditions that morning. She and the other 99 people on the planet who live with HSAM cannot forget these autobiographical memories directly associated with the specific dates or days.

Research has revealed about the same number of people who have HSAM have the opposite condition. They call this condition Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM). One researcher says SDAM goes beyond "having a really bad memory." People with SDAM can remember the facts of their lives' events—they don't have amnesia—but they can't remember what it was like to be there, explains one expert. He described the condition this way: "A mother with SDAM might remember that she took a Caribbean cruise with her family last winter, but she can't picture herself sitting on the deck with an umbrella drink in her hand, watching the kids in the pool."

HSAM and SDAM may represent opposite extremes on the continuum of autobiographical memory. All of us fall somewhere between HSAM and SDAM. When asked in an online interview as to whether having HSAM is a curse or a blessing, Henner could not have been clearer. "Totally a blessing! Never, not one day, not one moment, nothing has ever been a curse for me with this. Never. I know some people don't feel that way, but for me, it's always been a tremendous gift."

I have a pretty good memory. But, I have nothing like the kind of memory folks like Marilu Henner have. Whether you have a good memory, a photographic memory, or you have HSAM, you will never know everything there is to know in the universe. No one apart from God can know everything. The Scriptures describe God as omniscient. His knowledge encompasses every possible thing that exists, has ever existed, or will ever exist. He has full knowledge about everything in all of the universe, ever, all at the same time.

The attribute of God's omniscience should both alarm and comfort us. As One who will judge us one day, God knows everything we have ever thought, done, or felt. That should be an alarming and sobering thought. But, God's omniscience should also comfort us since nothing we have, are, or ever will experience will be outside of His divine knowledge. Our God knows what lies ahead. We can walk with Him, trusting Him. We may be facing uncertainty, but our God is never uncertain!

In the first six verses of Psalm 139, we get a sense of how well our omniscient God knows us. He knows when we get up, when we sit down, and when we walk on a path. He knows the very words our brains are about to send to our tongues before those words get to our mouths. He knows everything.

If you are trying to hide something from God, lie to Him, or avoid Him altogether, you can't. He knows. He knows everything, not just something, but everything. If you are worried about the uncertainty on the road ahead, trust the God Who knows what is around every bend and over every hill.

You cannot know everything on the road ahead, but you can walk with the One Who does. Trust Him! He Knows!

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