What I Know to be True

I’ve been staring at this empty screen for nearly an hour. Frustrated for not being able to transfer my thoughts into keystrokes. One might think I have nothing to say, but I know that’s not true. No, I have too much to spill and too little space. And I’m struggling with finding the balance of what to share and what to leave behind.

Madeline L’Engle said sometimes when we have to speak suddenly, we come closer to the truth than when we have time to think. Time to write it out.

Everything about that frightens me as I generally become speechless in person. And deep down I wonder if that means I struggle with what I know as truth.

Friends, in the last week I’ve been knocked down, stripped bare, left with wounds gaping. And as I look at myself in this most raw, impressionable state, I can’t hide it: The Truth.

She met me at my most vulnerable. Completely clueless as to why I was placed in her charge. As she probed in the most tactful way she could muster, I couldn’t help but smile. Yes, that’s me. Always trying to make another comfortable. But my voice gave truth away. It shook and threatened to give out on me as I explained politely why I was there. She wrapped her hand around mine as she searched for words of comfort. And came up with what most do: “I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you, but don’t be sorry,” I assured her with a level voice that surprised even me. “Sorry implies regret and I have none. Yes, this hurts, but it doesn’t define me.”

We both held each other as we let those words sink in. Me needing them more than she. Words of truth I didn’t realize were within.

And bravery started creeping in because maybe I see more truth than I realize.

I’ve been asking myself what I’ve seen through this mask of pain. And friends, as I picture you within reach, speaking to your compassionate eyes, this is what I can tell you:

Truth is, I’m a mess. A big puddle of failure if we focus on what I can do alone. I’m indecisive albeit easy-going. Only driven when I’m feeling challenged. Nothing about me stands out in a crowd.

I hide well behind politeness but inside I’m a dirty, rotten sinner.  Begging desperately for redemption. Clinging to the hope of amazing grace.

Truth is, I’ve found it: Grace. It was offered to me in a plain wrapped package. Like it could have been gifted to anyone. I couldn’t see my name on it until I got close enough and accepted it as my own. I’ve tested it. Sometimes without realizing it. And it’s true: The mercy of grace is new every morning.

Truth is, I can’t live without Him. To call Him my Savior seems like an understatement. For He has done more than save me. He’s redeemed me. Claimed me for His own. Made me feel like I’m His everything. He’s all that’s beautiful within me. And I’m head over heels in love.

Truth is, nothing can take that away. No amount of pain or sorrow can steal what He’s offered me. Reminding me how hopeless I am without Him can’t change the fact I have hope with Him.

Truth is, the enemy has his work cut out for him if he thinks I’ll walk away from this scandalous love affair I’ve wrapped myself in. No. I’m not that easy.

Friends, in the last week I’ve been knocked down, stripped bare, left with wounds gaping. And as I look at myself in this most raw, impressionable state, I can’t hide it: The Truth.

I’m a child of The King.
My name’s been written in Glory.
And I’m well on my way Home.
I hope to see you there.

How about you, friend? What do you know to be true? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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Always Be Ready…

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It was an ordinary workday. Like most, I had joined my colleagues in the lunchroom. The conversation was well under way when I arrived, yet they quickly pulled up a chair for me to join in. I pasted a smile on my face as I realized the topic was one of my least favorites. And decided to simply listen politely.

When I couldn’t take it any longer. The conversation was shifting to something I was passionate about defending: My Redeemer.

Bin Laden is proof there is no God. Unless God is cruel cuz there’s no way a good god could let a man like that do what he does. If that’s the case, I don’t want to know God, anyway.”

Friends, I was one in leadership and knew I wasn’t supposed to express my personal beliefs in the workplace. But I also knew I couldn’t sit silent. I’d never forgive myself.

It was out before I had even thought it through.

I don’t want to know his mother.” I uttered almost under my breath.

Instant silence. All eyes on me. My eyes on my plate.

What did you say, Nicole?”

I set my toasted sandwich down, met his gaze and reminded myself to breathe.

I said I don’t want to know Osama’s mother. How can she sit idly by and watch the chaos that comes from her son’s bloody hands? How can she live with herself?”

It’s now that I fully understand the word fervently. For that’s how I was praying.

Nicole, I can’t wait to see you become a mother. You know how little control parents have of their kids once they become adults. In fact, parents have less control over how their kids end up than they realize. Besides, the culture over there…” his voice trails in his own thoughts.

My eyes find my sandwich once again. I pick it up as I try to say coolly,

Sometimes I wonder if that’s how God feels. He may control earth’s orbit, but what makes you think He controls how we as people act with one another? We’re not puppets. He doesn’t take over Bin Laden any more than Osama’s own mother. And I’m certain the good God I believe in had better plans for Bin Laden than the path he’s freely chosen.

All stares peel off me and strike the man seeking for truth. Our eyes meet and I pray once again. May this man see Christ within me. May he come to me if he wants to know more….panic suddenly hits as I have no idea what I would say if he does!

Another saves him by changing the subject and soon the 30 second episode is forgotten. Except to me…and I was hoping him…

~~~~~~~~~~

This years-old incident came to mind recently while reading this verse:

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope,
always be ready to explain it.
I Peter 3:15

I couldn’t help but ask myself:

Am I always ready to explain the hope found in Christ?

Oh friends, somewhere along the line, I feel like we’ve complicated things. We’ve gotten wrapped up in more than the basic truth. So much so that the simplistic realization of Christian hope is often forgotten when needed most.

I don’t know about you, but I’m striving to change that. I want to be ready to explain the hope of Christ to anyone, anywhere, any way possible.

The other day, I sat down to write out how I would respond if someone asked me to explain away. And was so ashamed at how long it took me to write a single thing down.

You see, I have been through Billy Graham’s salvation training. I’ve been a Bible Camp Counselor. I hold a Bible degree. I’ve memorized the Romans road. I know the hope of Christ. I do. And yet, it doesn’t feel right.

Because God didn’t use Romans to save me. Simply memorizing scripture and spewing off impersonal facts is not the purest picture of Christ’s hope — the one I know deep down in my soul…and isn’t that what He’s asked me to share? The story He has given me personally? Isn’t that what I should always be ready to explain? How He’s saved me?

How about you, friend? Are you ready to explain your Christian hope? How would you? I’d love to hear.

And very soon, I will share mine…

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

A follow-up: The man mentioned has contacted me. He shared with me how he had been hurt severely by a church. There are also a few incidents in his childhood that have kept him from seeking God. It is still an ongoing conversation between us as he continues to reach out to me on occasion. I would appreciate your prayers as I keep striving to show him the healing truth.