A lot can happen in a week.
Last Saturday, I was celebrating mine and others' births and today I was at the funeral of a friend I grew up with...Nicole Leigh Rouis.
The service was beautifully heart wrenching.
Nikki was a grade above me. In middle school, I was pretty much obsessed with Nikki and her best friend Taylor. Nikki and Taylor and their friends were definitely the coolest girls in school. But, they weren't the typical "cool girls"... they weren't "mean girls", everyone loved them and loved being around them.
I loved lunch time for 3 reasons: 1) My life pretty much revolved(s) around meal times 2) social time 3) Nikki's class came to lunch the same time.
For me, walking the aisle from the door of the cafeteria to the lunch line was pretty much an Olympic speed walking competition because that's one of the most awkward parts about being in middle school (I see it every day at the middle school where I teach). You feel like everyone sitting at the tables are staring and judging you, and you're thinking, "Lord, please help me not trip!" or "Lord, please let my fly not be down." or "Lord, please let Chris Mackey walk next to me to block me from the stares!"(He was one of the big football players).
But, for Nikki and her friends, that long walk might as well have been a fashion show cat walk. They always looked so cute -- trend setters, really. If they were wearing the front of their shirts tucked into their belt, then I was going to be figuring out how to do that the next day. If they wore Timberland boots, I was beggin my mom that night to get me some.
Whenever I would see her in the cafeteria or the hallway, I would be strategically positioning myself to see if she noticed me. When she did, she would smile and say "Hey Rebecca!". In her head, I'm sure she was thinking, "Rebecca is such a creep..." hahaha
She. knew. my. name.
Nikki Rouis knew. my. name.
Realizing that she knew my name gave my 7th grade self, a sense of confidence and worth. As we grew up, she befriended me in high school and always sweetly acknowledged me. I'm realizing how much of an impact this acknowledgement made on my heart, looking back.
As awesome as it was for Nikki Rouis to know and call me by name, it's even cooler that the God who created the Universe and sets all things into motion, knows my name. Not just that, the Bible says that He knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7) and that He saves my tears (Psalm 56:8). Psalm 139 states just how well He knows us:
You know when I leave and when I get back. I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, to your reassuring presence, coming and going.This is too much, too wonderful. I can’t take it all in!Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit to be out of your sight?If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon,You’d find me in a minute--you’re already there waiting!Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!”It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!Body and soul, I am marvelously made!I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out you know every bone in my body;You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,how I was sculpted from nothing into something.Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;all the stages of my life were spread out before you,The days of my life all prepare before I’d even lived one day.
Like the verse says, it's too much and it's too wonderful to know that our big God knows me and loves me that much. He knows my name. He created my calling. He's guiding me and loving me along the way. As special as it was to know that Nikki knew my name, it's even more amazing to know that God knows mine. He outlasts trends and has stood the test of time -- ultimately, we are called to reflect, Christ, not other people. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8). Nikki was a big personality and I felt so small compared to her, yet she knew my name. God indeed is a big God, and I often feel small and I feel my concerns are too small for Him to notice or listen to. But I know He hears (Psalm 34:17) and He cares (1 Peter 5:7).
AND He calls me friend (John 15:15).
He gives me more worth and value than any one person can give, no matter how loving they are. I have given Him my heart and trust Him to protect it, mold it, and shape it. Although it's a struggle to continue to seek His approval over people's, He's teaching me with such tremendous care.
As wonderful as the relationships we build here on this Earth are, how much sweeter is the relationship that we build with our Father. Life is about relationships and knowing someone's name and being a part of their life, no matter how big or small a part, is such an intimate and precious thing. God wants that with us... He relentlessly pursues that relationship with us. God sent His Son to earth to die for us to have that relationship with Him.
When things get shaky, I am quick to first, talk to Phillip, call my mom, or my good friends, but I am learning to value God as my primary refuge, my best friend, and take things to Him first, then act. There are definitely times when I feel like He is being silent, but I take comfort in the hope of His promises that He is working. I know I can come to Him with anything, whenever. He knows my heart. The author, Angie Smith, in her book, What Women Fear, states: "What if we deliberately made the Lord a part of our hours, and not just a part of our hour of need? Be in constant communion with Him so when times are hard, you have a relationship instead of requests."
I pray all of this for you. That as you live through good and tragic moments, you will seek Him first. Romans 8 says: Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
It's not work. It's willingness. It's not about trying to impress, it's about intertwining your life with The Spirit. It's not about earning acceptance, it's about accepting His redemption, restoration, love, peace, and hope through His grace... for our good and His glory.
PS. God, tell Nikki we love her!
Passionate about Jesus and people, I've added this blog to communicate strategy and thoughts about Biblical Hospitality and The Church as a movement, rather than just people in a building once a week. It seems like everyone is blogging these days, (which is awesome!) and I know that there are always better and more insightful thoughts, but God is leading this so I'm just writing in obedience.