Musical Musing: Nichole Nordeman, “Legacy”

Nichole Nordeman, Legacy

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Not well traveled, not well read,
not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead,
"Well Done" good and faithful one...

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

OK, when I started working on these, I had in the back of my mind that I’d leave these old favorites for last while I worked on the new favorites from this CD. Alas, the not-so-random randomizer on my car’s CD player decided I needed to hear this twice last night, so perhaps there’s a reason for me to move it up and talk about this one sooner.

Humanity seems obsessed with the legacy we leave behind when we’re gone. For those who don’t believe in an eternal life after death, our legacy is all that remains after we’re gone. To some extent, that’s true… those who come after we’ve gone will only know us by the legacy we’ve left on this side of eternity. In an existential viewpoint, we are defined by our actions… what is outwardly visible becomes our legacy.

So, how do we leave something behind for others? What do we want our legacy to be? When people we’ve never met hear our names, what do we want them to think of us? Are we going to be a name on a school that the students within don’t even remember? (I went to C. Vernon Spratley Middle School, and I have to be honest, I have NO CLUE what the man did to get a school named for him!)

If we look at history, it would seem that the existentialists are right: we aren’t remembered for our intentions, only what we actually do. Our ideas go nowhere without us doing something with them, and our intentions are lost to all of time unless we act upon them, and even then, are judged by the results of that action. Judas may have had noble intentions, but all we have are the results of his action, and that is how he is judged.

Nichole talks about her legacy in this song. It’s nice, she says, to have recognition now, but recognition now is nothing compared to what people know of us later. Of what worth is recognition for skill today if what we do with our lives is completely worthless? What use is it to have your name known if it’s forgotten tomorrow, or if what you’re known for isn’t what you want to be remembered for (Names of examples omitted to protect the guilty). Nichole concludes that she wants to be remembered because she pointed to God Almighty. In fact, I think we could go so far as to say that she’d be willing to be forgotten so long as God is remembered because of her actions in life.

Once upon a time, when I still dreamt of my children, I promised myself that I would be content with whatever career they chose, so long as they did the best they could and they loved their God with everything they had. What more could a mother ask, except that her children gave their everything to serve the God of eternity? At the end of my life, nothing will matter to me except that I poured my life out in service of the God who poured His life out for me. I’m not interested in lengthy descriptions of my accomplishments, of everything I’ve ever written or said. I want a legacy that can be summed up this simply: “She loved.”

What will be your legacy?


Musical Musings: I Am, Nichole Nordeman

Wait a minute, wait a minute... you just did "I Am". You said you were going to blog on each of her songs... what are you doing adding a second entry for one song when you haven't gotten to the rest yet?
Yeah, well, when inspiration strikes, I can't really ignore it. Jeremiah expresses it well in Chapter 20, verse 9 when he says "But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

Look back at those lyrics. There's a common theme through the chorus... "When I am weak, unable to speak, still I can call you by name..."

Have you ever been there? So at a loss for words that you don't even know where to begin? Have you ever had a hurt or a heartbreak that just stole the words from your mouth, and all you could do was sob? Have you ever been so moved that words could not begin to describe it, and you find it's impossible to limit the wonder with mere language?

I've been there, so broken that I could only sob "Oh God, Oh God," over and over again, rocking on my living room floor as tears flowed freely down my face. I couldn't even stay in my chair... driven to my knees, to my face by Almighty God, in all His mercy and love, I couldn't put word to what was overwhelming my heart.

And yet, I've never had sweeter prayer than in moments like that... when I didn't even know where to start praying, what words to speak to my God. It's happened more than once, and I'm not always in a pile on the floor when I am moved beyond mere words. (If you ever see me alone in my car, tears pouring down my face, chances are good, I'm having one of those moments.) In those moments of utter brokenness, of heartache that moves me so far that my normally verbose self is struck dumb, I find that I am able to pray still.

Romans, the "How To" guide for how to live the Christian life, discusses this amazing situation. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27 that in moments of this complete weakness, "the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf with groans that words can not express."

That may be one of the greatest roles of Christ and the Spirit in our lives... not to say that salvation isn't amazing, but salvation is the ultimate intercession, isn't it? Job speaks of the intercessor in Job 16:19-21 when he tells us that his intercessor is an advocate on high, interceding even as our eyes pour out before God. In fact, a topical search on intercession reveals many many instances.

So what is an intercessor? What is this all about? The American Heritage Dictionary at Dictionary.com defines intercession as an "Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another" or "mediation in a dispute". An intercessor provides this entreaty, this mediation. What scripture tells us is that we have an advocate, a friend, an ally on our side before the throne of the Almighty God. When we find we have no words to express, when the tears flow so freely that we can only hiccup as we sob, we have an advocate, speaking the truth that is in our hearts. He is putting into words what we cannot.

So what. Why do we need this intercessor, anyway? Because there is an accuser before the throne, too, one who aspired to sit upon it, and seeks to win at any cost. Satan literally means "accuser". He wanted the throne, He needs the grace we are so freely given. In many ways, he's that 6-7 year old kid who goes running to the teacher at every opportunity. "Lookie what she did! She's not so special! Nenny-nenny!" He's going to the perfect, just, sinless God with all our failures and shortfalls, when we are most vulnerable, trying to get us in trouble. Gee, I think I like the idea of a guy on my side, speaking on my behalf.

When I am most wounded, weakest, most completely overwhelmed, unable to do more than sob His name, I have an intercessor speaking the words I can not. Before I was, I had a King who interceded on my behalf even though it cost Him His life to do so. He bore my failures, my errors, my selfishness, all of my ugliness on His sinless self. "See God? Her failures are covered. The debt she owes? I've paid it in full." And then, He rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. "Look, God... see? She's covered. Oh, Father, can you hear her heart breaking? How she loves her sisters. She doesn't know how to help them, how to show them how free she is in my embrace... Father, do you hear her heart?" And of course He does.

I will be weak, unable to speak, still I will call You by name. "Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer, Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer, Lord and King, Beginning and the End" My intercessor... "I am, yes I Am."

Praise God for providing our needs before we knew how desperately we'd need them. Praise God for the intercessor, who stepped from Heaven to Earth, bore my sin, and returned to the Father where He could speak on my behalf. Praise God for the intercessor, who resides with me, who knows the deepest heart of me, and speaks on my behalf when words fail me. Praise God.


Musical Musings: "I Am" by Nichole Nordeman

OK, I said I was doing these in no particular order, but I have to start somewhere, right? I’m starting with “I Am” this morning.

Pencil marks on a wall
I wasn't always this tall,
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed,
You watched my team win,
You watched my team lose,
You watched when my bicycle went down again,

And When I was weak
unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Elbow healer, Superhero,
come if You can,” and You said “I am”

Only 16,
life is so mean,
what kind of curfew is at ten PM
You saw my mistakes,
You watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again

When I was weak,
unable to speak, still I could call You by name,
and I said “Heart-ache Healer, Secret-keeper,
be my Best Friend” and You said “I am”

You saw me wear white,
by pale candlelight,
I said forever to what lies ahead
two kids and a dream,
with kids that can scream
too much it might seem when it’s two AM

when I am weak,
unable to speak,
still I will call You by name.
“Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker,
hold on to my hand,” and You say “I am.”

The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around us
so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer

Life had begun,
I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne,
who can say when,
But they’ll dance again,
when I am free and finally headed home

I will be weak,
unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning andthe End,"
"I am, yes, I am.”

Nichole takes us on a voyage through life in this song, visiting different stages in our lives and expressing what we see in God in each. She starts with the small child first. God is like Superman to us, the hero of the Bible, the rescuer from our innocent terrors. We are still sorting out who He is and what that means… thus we ask him to “Come if You can”.

Next she moves to the teenager, exploring who we are with those around us, learning to test our own independence and yet needing someone to keep us safe still. Having learned that God is indeed the healer of our physical hurts, that He can be with us, we now ask Him for a relationship as we trust him with our secrets and broken heart. Our deepest cry is for a best friend.

We move on to the young wife and new mother, watching her marriage and her struggle with two a.m. feedings. Certain and assured that she has a relationship with the God who healed her body and cradles her heart, she cries out now for peace and a helping hand with the day to day grind. We learn that God wants to be more than just there, more than a best friend, that He’s waiting to help us in every moment of life.

The bridge speaks of the constancy of God, and the way we can cling to Him when life seems changeable and inconsistent around us. It reminds us to go back to the God we trusted when we were young, to the moments when we knew He was there.

Finally, we get to the part that makes me weep with joy every time. Nichole reminds us of the tender care and great joy with which we were knit together, and then speaks of the celebration that will accompany our home-coming. God will be, as He always has been, our Beginning, our End, the Lord and King. We see Him in the full revelation of all He is… and He Is, as He has been always, and will be always.

At the concert, Nichole spoke of the different names of God, but that the greatest of these is “I Am”. This is the name God gave Moses from the burning bush, this is the name Christ invoked in the garden when the guards came to arrest Him. It is the name from which we draw YHWH and Jehova… the first is the literal Hebrew for “I Am”, and the other is a Germanic pronunciation of the Hebrew name.

Here is the marvel of “I Am”… it’s not “I Was,” or “I Will Be”, but rather a constant, an unchanging present. I Am is “I have always Been, I will always Be, I AM.” It is consistency in the midst of chaos. It is His omnipresence. The I AM encompasses everything He’s ever been, will ever be. He is Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Maker, there when we need Him most, our best Best Friend ever… He is all of that and more, because He is the “I Am.”

How can I not weep as I’m reminded that the “I Am” has always been there? It reminds me of an interpretation He gave me once of the story of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46, the skit I just did with John for church). As I wept, brokenhearted by the things that had been done to me, shattered that I’d felt so alone in those moments when I was beaten, abused, raped, certain that my God, as big as He was, didn’t know what it was like to be raped, He showed me those verses again. “I tell you the truth; whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” And then I could almost feel His arms wrapping around me, as I sat there weeping, and I heard Him whisper into my deepest heart, my deepest hurt. “I tell you the truth; whatever you did TO the least of one of these children of Mine, you did TO Me.” My God was there, the great and mighty I Am was there, and He placed His body between mine and every blow that rained on me, between every injury that ever came to my innocent mind and body; the I Am was there.

That is the I Am. When you need Him most, even when you don’t see Him, the I Am is there, coming between you and the worst things you’ve ever imagined, things worse than you can imagine. He comes to scatter our monsters, to calm our storms, to heal our heartbreak, to hold our hands… the I Am sang with joy as He created us and the angels danced around His throne. The I Am is waiting to sing again, for the moment when His hand pulls our eternal soul from our temporal body, when the angels again dance in His victory around the throne and we come home to Him. The I Am is more than you can imagine, more than you can understand, more than you dare dream.

Praise the I Am, from whom all blessings flow. Praise the I Am, all creatures here below. Praise the I Am above, all the angels of the heavenly host, Praise the I Am, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Breath, the Spirit.

I praise You, Great and Mighty I Am.

Musical Musing, Nichole Nordeman's ReCollection

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's that time again. (It's already been that time again this morning when I cleaned out the litterboxes before I was fully awake so that we could get it out before the trash truck came... but that's not what I mean at the moment...)

I went to Women Of Faith in Oklahoma City Nov. 2-3. It's an awesome conference, and I'm still thinking about some of the things I heard there. One of the things we heard was a concert with Nichole Nordeman, and her talking to us on the topic of "Amazing Freedom" and what that means to her. Afterwards, I went out and bought the first CD I could find with the songs she'd played... and that was ReCollection. Standing in the autograph line with my roommate for a little while got us both some autographed CDs, and I can't stop listening to mine.

Before this, I had a Nichole Nordeman Karaoke CD with 3-4 of her hits... "This Mystery", "Holy", "Legacy" and "To Know You", and I loved them all. These are all great songs, and three of them are in this collection. They're joined by several others from previous albums, and two new recordings. I love every song I've heard, and several of them move me to tears. In fact, I started to muse on just one of them, and then I realized that I liked this one and that one, too, and as I'm sitting here listening to the CD while I write this, I'm wanting to talk about more still...

So in no particular order, you will get seperate posts for each song as I have time to tell you how it's striking my heart. Watch for "Why", "I Am", "Finally Free", and "Is It Any Wonder" in the next few weeks to start with.

Nichole, I told you when you signed my CD for me that I loved your music, that it really speaks to me. God has truly given you a gift for speaking truth in a way that it spurs more thought and meditation... not just on the meaning of the lyrics, but also on the Savior who inspires them. I think, before I'm done, I'll have mused on all of the songs on this album (because "Who You Are", playing at the moment, certainly needs discussing, too...). Praise the God of creativity, of wisdom, of wonder, of freedom, justice, mercy, the God who IS Love, and our common Savior who died that we might have a relationship with the Maker and Sustainer of all things. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, and thank you, Nichole, for having the courage to share your deepest heart with us. May the Lord bless you and keep you, May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, May the Lord turn his face upon you and give you Peace.