Right Where You’re Supposed to Be

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

When God transitions us into new seasons or new spaces, doubt and uncertainty will likely follow. The unfamiliar spaces stretch us, bring discomfort and we may ask, “Lord, is this where I’m supposed to be?” If the process seems too long, we may seek other options to bring about our own resolution rather than trusting in God’s perfect plan for us. We may struggle with “Fear Of a Better Option.”

I can relate. On this past Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show entitled, “Do You Struggle with FOBO?” (Fear Of a Better Option), I shared with you some of my moments of uncertainty in this new season God has me in. A successful PR professional of more than 10 years who in fall 2015, God led me to enroll in grad school to pursue my Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit and faith-based management. God is asking me to uncleave from previous, successful crutches to tread a new, unfamiliar path. I’ve cut back on certain volunteer activities, reduced work hours, and seem to have more free time than the legal law should allow!  I get to cook lunch, take naps, go for long walks, do laundry, run errands, counsel and pray for others, do my full-time coursework, and carry out this ministry.

To someone whose been employed since age 15 working multiple jobs at the same time (“3 jobs mon!” impersonating Jamaican voice), going from one thing to the next barely to pause in between, the extra time in the day, the peace, the quiet, and tranquility, unnerved me. I said, “Lord, is this where I’m supposed to be? Lord, what more should I be doing?”  

Trust God has you where He wants you

I’m confident in my spirit that this is His path for me, though thoughts of uncertainty have come. Through deeper commune with the Lord, prayer time, fasting, and words spoken by trusted prayer partners I press forward in courage and confidence. I trust what He has called me to do. I trust that He has me right where I’m supposed to be. Reflecting on Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

If God has you in a new, unfamiliar season, trust that He has you RIGHT WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE. Our God Who is Sovereign over all including your very steps, has you right where He wants you. He’s the same God who told Joshua and others, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

If anything I’ve learned in this season of transition to encourage you, is this:

  • Whatever God allows in this season is done to conform you into the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ; He will build your faith, refine your character, purge old ways and thoughts that are not of Him.
  • He will not show you the entire staircase but He will lead and guide your steps.
  • God’s calling and gifts on your life are irrevocable (Romans 11:29); He called you to this path knowing that you’re an imperfect vessel (me too).
  • The new season will stretch you, but oh what joy!!
  • Glean, GLEAN everything from this season that you can! All activities, character refining, conversations, discomforts, events, lessons learned, etc., are important for those you will impact in your new territory.
  • Create a hostile environment to deflect the enemy’s fiery darts of doubt through prayer, worship, fasting, commune with the Lord. GO forward in courage and confidence! Remain a moving target to the enemy!

As our Voices Against the Grain ministry turns “3” today, I smile with great joy!! Thank you, Jesus! A blessing that I/we don’t take lightly to pour into you His Word, instruction, love and encouragement. Thank you for each of you who has joined us in this journey—some of you from the very day we launched and boldly said, “Hello” to a public world on May 28, 2013. Thank you for supporting and joining us whether in prayer, comments and likes to posts, retweets, shares, your blog posts, tweets, testimonies shared on our radio show, partnerships, donations and words of encouragement and instruction.

Thank you, and God bless you! We remain vigilant in sharing Christ’s love with the lost and joyful in serving the Lord in “advancing His Kingdom” as the Body of Christ.

Love and Blessings,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

When Are the Numbers Enough?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

By the numbers:

  • Seven shootings within 48 hours this week, in the same communities.
  • Three murdered as a result of those shootings.
  • As of this time last year, Washington, D.C., had 44 homicides, compared to 47 homicides at present time (May 19, 2016), according to Metropolitan Police Department crime data.
  • D.C.’s homicide totals for 2015 was 162 people murdered.

As a D.C. resident, I remember being abhorred last year by the almost daily news casts reporting of another murder in the District. Today, unfortunately, it seems the problem is increasing.

What’s worse: this week’s shootings occurred in broad daylight, averaging between the hours of 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Schools would be letting out around 3 p.m., and as Natalie Williams, Advisory Neighborhood Commission chairperson for Southeast D.C.’s Ward 8 told NBC4 this week, “It’s a shame that we have kids who are getting out of school right now, and when they come up all they are familiar with is these yellow tapes.”

Williams also said that “people are afraid to simply live,” given the increased violence. Community meeting after community meeting, neighborhood rallies and an increased police presence in these high-crime communities has not done much to stop the violence or quell residents’ fears for their own personal safety.

In fact, shootings that typically occur during the wee morning hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., are now happening in broad daylight. A full disregard for human life and no concern for the many who will be impacted by the loss of life, whether family member, friend, student passing by yellow tape, residents or the news viewer. The collateral damage has reverberating effects.

crime scene tape

Why do I write about this?  Because even as gut-wrenching and sobering as the numbers are (at least to me), when will the numbers be enough to move more people, particularly Christians, to make resolving this issue a priority?

I ask this, as a burden the Lord has placed on my heart in mentoring D.C. youth, many who between the ages of 15-24 are either perpetrators of or victims of violent crime. I spoke this week with the executive director of a Southeast D.C. youth mentoring faith-based organization. The FBO has been active in its immediate community since its founding in 1995. The FBO has a number of business, community, individual and nonprofit stakeholders who support its work. Yet, even in all of this, I asked the executive director, “Where are the gaps? Why an increase in crime and not a decrease in this area, particularly as it pertains to youth?”

His response to me was simple and sadly, something I already knew:

“Many people have not made the youth a priority. We need more caring people and more caring institutions to care about the issues and put egos aside.”

I will also add that Christ is our only hope in transforming hearts, homes, neighborhoods and communities. A number of folks in the Body of Christ hesitate to share about Christ, concerned that they may offend someone rather than make way for their spiritual healing.

Outside of it being the seat of federal government and its highly flocked to and visited monuments, museums, other tourist attractions, and its four and five-star restaurants, Washington, D.C. suffers the same societal ills as other urban cities rife with crime and violence. Many of Washington, D.C.’s neighborhoods that are low-income, have high rates of homelessness and underserved in resources also see an influx of drug trafficking, thefts, home invasions, spikes in violence, gang activity, etc.

Washington DC skyline

D.C. is a wellspring for many churches, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, community based organizations and interest groups who set up shop in the nation’s capital to provide programs and services to address such social ills within the city and nationwide.

So why do the problems persist? While evil will always be with us until Christ’s return, it requires that the Body of Christ truly be engaged in their God-given callings, standing as the standard in the communities and domains God has called them to. Some will say, “We need more money, more resources to do this work” (God will provide).

But in fact, we need more hearts to stand as salt, light and truth to stem the tide of decay. It requires us to prioritize such matters and to be INTERESTED. The Lord has led me to write and speak recently on the need for many more in the Body of Christ to be INTERESTED and to serve where they are placed. As told to us in Matthew 9:37, The harvest (the opportunities) is plentiful but the workers are few. 

When will the numbers be enough for you? Where has God given you a burden to serve in the things that break His heart? 

If you’re already walking in this and serving in obedience in the lane God has called you to, THANK YOU. If you have sat on the sidelines hoping the problems will simply go away, or you hope someone else will step in or you’re praying that Jesus will soon return to snatch you out of this chaos, please rethink your position.

LISTEN: Meanwhile, I invite you to listen to our short message on “Interesting or Interested?”

THANK YOU to many of you who because you ARE INTERESTED and believe in what God has called our ministry to do, you have contributed to our “Bring Godliness to D.C. and Society” campaign. You are helping in our work to reach the lost with truth.

Heavenly Father, help us to always be INTERESTED in and make a priority of what you’ve placed in our hearts to do. Lord, I pray we desire to be obedient to what you’ve called us to do and not deviate from or short change it for the lesser things of this world. As Christians, we need to spend more time being interested in others.  As a dear brother in Christ said, “When God gives us a burden for something, we need to look in the mirror. More often, WE are the answer to prayer.”  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God bless you,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

A Good Person?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“You’re such a good person. You are so good-natured. You are humane.” If I hear these words told to me once more, I may scream. But I realize that the people speaking those words don’t know any better. They measure “goodness” by worldly standards. I haven’t killed anybody, haven’t shot anybody, didn’t curse anyone out. I must be “good.”

Yes, I was raised in a loving household, by a mom and dad who loved me and my brother dearly. Our parents taught us to be kind to others—even when we were called the “n-word” in our predominately White school district. We were taught to say “may I,” and “please” and “thank you.” We were taught not to steal because the item didn’t belong to us (though this still happened—that’s another story). We were raised in a Christian household, blessed by generations of family members whose love for Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has bestowed God’s blessings and favor upon us today, as promised in Exodus 20:6

My grandma said that I was “born smiling.” Yet, in all of this “goodness,” and the compassion and kindness I show toward others today, trust and believe it’s not because I am “good.” I am still a product of being born into sin and a fallen nature. All of us are, due to mankind’s fall/Adam and Eve. Unequivocally, what you see outwardly from me is the Holy Spirit living and working moment-by-moment within me. Countless times the Holy Spirit has stopped me short of saying words that would be unkind. Countless times He has settled me with His love and peace toward others when my flesh wants to rise up and lay them out. As I wrote in this March 10, 2016 post, “10 Things I Shouldn’t Do But Do Anyway,” I am an imperfect vessel.

Transformation

I’ve purposely asked the Lord to transform me into His likeness. I daily pray that He help me extend toward others greater levels of faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I give Jesus ALL of the GLORY for who I am, because of His living in me. I am not foolish in thinking that all of this has come because I am “so good.” It’s because I’ve made a deliberate choice to walk in His ways, to yield to His spirit and instruction to love others.

In fact, the Scottish Baptist evangelist Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), said “love means that there is no longer a visible habit, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously.” Loving others is becoming more and more for me each day, less of a habit and more a fabric of my being. Thank you, Jesus!

Those of us who daily yield our actions, words and thoughts to the Holy Spirit’s ways understand this humbling yet joyful transformation. As told in Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

It’s a blessing when we see God’s perfecting at work in our lives and others see the EVIDENCE as well. To call it anything less by saying “we are good” is to deny the greater work that has been invested in us by a loving God who values us so. If not for Him, we’d be left to our own devices. Without inviting the Holy Spirit into our hearts, it’s foolish thinking to consider ourselves “good.” As a dear sister in Christ says, “We underestimate our sin. We underestimate who we are.”

So please, do not consider me “good.” But rather, consider me being perfected daily in Christ Jesus!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

I’ve Been Reckless

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Audacious. Incautious. Reckless. Yes, I’ve been reckless. In pursuing and thirsting after the Lord, I’ve had a reckless abandon to Him. Since He called me as a child and truly more in these past five years, I’ve made choices that by the world’s standards would label me as “reckless.” In my love to serve the Lord, I’ve sidestepped worldly opportunities that would have advanced me professionally and would’ve made my credentials really shine.

In my love for the Lord Jesus Christ, I’ve purposely chosen discomfort over comfort. These choices have taken me to the edge at times, making me wholly dependent upon Him for everything, and I mean everything. By the world’s standards, I’m considered a fool. Yes, then, I am a fool…a fool for Jesus in a time when people choose to be fools for foolish things. I am a fool for the Great I AM.

I’ve been exposed and vulnerable to help others in His Name, in times when people prefer to be cloaked and preserved from being viewed as “less than.” In speaking His Truth to a deceived world, I along with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, have forgone the desire to be liked by the world, risking being falsely perceived by others as a “bigot” or “judgmental.”

Reckless Abandon

I’ve taken risks that say “I’m all in” for a God whom I’ve never seen in the flesh—but I HAVE seen Him. I’ve seen Him show up in ways that are impossible to put into words here. I feel His Presence daily. I hear Him in my spirit. He guides my steps. I’ve trusted Him when I haven’t always been able to trace Him. But I know He’s there, beside me and ahead of me, taking care of me. In going “all in” and walking to the edge in His Name, He has promised me, “If you do my work, I will take care of you.” And He remains faithful to His promises.

In Matthew 6:31-6:33, Jesus tells us, “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32- For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33- But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

There’s an allure of the world’s offerings of fame, influence, pleasure, position and power. There’s a desire to be liked by and accepted by the culture. To pursue these worldly desires, as a dear sister in Christ says, “one has to trade down” and end up with less instead of trading up to the abundant life offered through relationship in Christ Jesus. Trading up to a life in Christ will indeed cost you to lose favor with the world but gain favor in Christ Jesus.

If God is calling you for His work, your purpose in God will not be achieved without risk, without stepping out of comfort zones, without stretching, without the comfort of seeing the entire staircase before you. You’ll have to be okay when you’re labeled a “fool” or “reckless” for decisions that pit you against the security offered by this world.

In having a reckless, audacious, incautious, “all in” abandon in serving the Lord, I promise you, there is no greater joy and adventure! As our ministry turns “3” later this month, I’m all the more excited and reckless toward what He wants to do through me and the Body of Christ to awaken a slumbering world! I am grateful for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who serve Him in reckless abandon! Will you join us in being reckless for Christ?

prison-weedINVITATION: Are you being a light to others in their darkness? Are you sharing Christ as the key to release someone from their spiritual prison of deception and brokenness? If you are, how will you receive those who are freed from their prisons? Will you receive them joyfully or reluctantly? Whether you need to be empowered in sharing God’s Truth or renewed in your compassion to embrace others seeking a way out of their spiritual prisons, or simply want to hear our message on this topic, I invite you to listen to this week’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, “Consequently.”

God bless you and continue to be a voice against the grain for Him,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.