Do you desire to change or completely start over? How does the Genesis account of creation reveal a divine sequence applicable for us today? What lessons does the Genesis story teach about spiritual disciplines for abiding in Christ and staying in step with the Holy Spirit?
Please tell of the brainstem stroke you suffered at the age of 20 and its aftermath.
Nika Maples: My personal experience with illness and disability undergirds each book I write. Everyday Genesis focuses on re-creation, so for me, a time I needed to be re-created was after I suffered a lupus-related stroke at age 20. The injury was in my brainstem, and it left me quadriplegic within a matter of minutes. I couldn’t speak or even open my eyes. But I could hear. I heard doctors warn my parents that I had as little as 48 hours to live. If I did survive, I might remain in a vegetative state for the rest of my life. It was a very dark time for me. It was a very dark time for all of us.
How has that experience informed your message in Everyday Genesis?
Nika Maples: When I made it through the worst of the brain trauma, we were left asking, “What next?” I had to figure out how to live life differently than I had always known it. I needed to be re-created from the inside out. Revelation 21:4-5 speaks of what I hoped for: “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
After my stroke, the old way was gone, gone, gone. I had to relearn how to swallow liquid and tie my shoes. Did I dare allow Jesus to make everything new, like he promises in this passage? It was the only viable choice. Everyday Genesis is based upon what I learned through the process of inviting him to re-create me.
How does the Bible’s Genesis account of creation reveal a divine sequence that shows the secrets to a new life? What is that divine sequence?
Nika Maples: As I was reading through Genesis 1, I saw something I had never noticed before. Each day of creation depended entirely upon the previous day. The land was populated with animals on Day 5, but that could not have happened if there had not been something for them to eat, which happened when God covered the land with vegetation on Day 3. And plants cannot survive without light and water, which was provided on Days 1 and 2. Why wouldn’t God’s ordered sequence in creation also be applied to our re-creation? I believe it does. Before we can be productive, fruit-bearing people, we have to have revelation, freedom, and purpose. God’s work builds in beauty and complexity, both on earth and in us.
What does it mean if a person doesn’t stop practicing a bad habit?
Nika Maples: It means they’re a lot like me! It’s amazing how many habits in my life have stuck around for years, no matter how diligently I’ve battled them. Eventually, I had to start asking different questions. Instead of asking myself, “How can I conquer this?,” I began to ask God, “What is your perspective on this? What would you say to me right now?”
As it turns out, the issues in my life were not the real issues. The habits were only symptoms, not the disease itself. God showed me that one of the recurring habits in my life bubbles to the surface when I’m not trusting him. That requires a very different remedy.
Now, when I’m tempted to go back to my familiar coping mechanism, I realize that extinguishing the habit is not about needing more willpower. It’s about needing more trust. John 6:63 tells us “human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” There is more power in speaking God’s Word over our lives than we realize.
Explain what you mean when you say that there’s power in speaking Scripture and truth out loud.
Nika Maples: The Creator did not think the world into being. He spoke it into being. We’re made in his image, therefore, we’re to do what he does. He speaks and things happen. In Isaiah 55:11, he says that rain is life-giving and “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” What a blessing to have his life-giving words available to us. It’s up to us now to send his living Word out of our mouths to accomplish all that he desires.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Nika Maples: I have a funny practice that helps me memorize Bible verses. I whisper them out loud if I happen to glance at a digital clock and see a Scripture reference I know. I don’t watch the clock obsessively for this, but if I happen to glance at the time, and I see it is 8:18, I will say, “My present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in me,” from Romans 8:18. When it’s 4:14, I say, “I have been raised up for such a time as this,” from Esther 4:14. If it’s 6:06, I say, “I know that God, who sees me pray when no one else does, will reward me,” from Matthew 6:6. I guess I’ll glance and see a reference I know about two or three times a day, and always exactly when I need a particular verse to remind me who I am and whose I am. Reaffirming who you are in Christ two or three times a day is never a bad thing. So … my favorite Bible passage? It’s the one I need right then.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Nika Maples: I don’t know what I would do without Bible Gateway! It’s the first window I see in my browser when I sit down to write. My favorite feature is the parallel button, which allows me to read a passage in multiple translations at the same time. I open five Bibles—from a literal translation to a paraphrase—side-by-side on my screen at all times. I never close Bible Gateway. It’s just there on one tab all the time.
Bio: Nika Maples is known for her books Everyday Genesis: Inviting God to Re-Create You, Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light, and Twelve Clean Pages. At the age of 20, Nika suffered a massive brainstem stroke that left her unable to move or speak. Given 48 hours to live, Nika miraculously recovered to return to school and to her dreams of becoming a teacher and writer. In 2007 Nika was awarded the Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year award through the Texas Education Agency. After ten years of teaching English in high school and immediate grade school, she has become a full-time speaker and writer.
Discover fresh inspiration in your favorite Bible stories with Bible Gateway Plus! Try it today!