Thursday, February 1, 2024

Unexpected Legacy Series: Nicolas Herman

By Matthew J. Elliott
Everyone has that one historical figure who plays a significant role in their development and understanding of the world around them. As a writer who tends to build stories around the lesser-known historical figures in scripture, most of the biblical characters who have played the more meaningful roles in who I have become were not well-known people. In truth, my inspiration came from characters others did not give a second thought. These types of characters always taught me insightful and unexpected lessons that I use even today. However, if you are reading this particular blog post, you are likely looking for the historical aspect of the story. Don’t worry; that is where we will spend the rest of today’s post.

While scripture is one of my primary resources for content; Today, I wanted to bring a little knowledge to the table about a man once called Nicolas Herman. This amazing historical figure was born in the early 1600s in France. History will tell you that this young man was nothing special when he was born, but have you ever heard the saying, “Your past defines you?” Well, the family Nicolas was born into had little wealth and even less education. Nothing about this man would have led anyone to believe who he became as an adult. One thing his parents did have going for them was their Christian heritage, and that is what they taught their son. If you can imagine a scene with me for a moment…
It is a dark and stormy evening; a young boy is looking out the window of a poorly built home, watching the rain fall from the sky.  He turns away from the window to see his father home from the fields, pulling an old looking book from the top shelf. Together, the family sits in their half-broken chairs, looking at the words written within its wrinkly and damaged pages. In the corner, a small fire, cooking an even smaller meal. Suddenly, the young boy looks at his parents with the biggest smile upon his face. “I know that one Pappa.” Then, the three of them embrace. After this, the meal is served. Moments later, they all kneel by the young boy's bed and look to the heavens.

While I will never know if something like that happened, the idea is there. Regardless of what did take place in the home Nicolas grew up in, his parents encouraged a life of faith. Was that all they gave him? Likely not, but there is not much history about that time in his life.   What is known though, is that this young man grew up, and throughout his life, he embraced the teachings his parents tried to instill in him, and he eventually became the author of a small book that has inspired millions of people, including myself.  

Before we jump into that, there is more to his story than the impact of his words on the world today. Nicolas grew into a young man whose zeal for life was inspired by a tree hibernating in winter, a sentiment that has inspired me also. When asked by a good friend why the tree inspired him so much, Nicolas would only state that even though he knew the tree was barren, what mattered was that eventually, life would blossom from it again. The friend asked a further question about why this mattered, to which Nicolas replied. ‘It gave me a profound impression of God’s providence and that knowledge has never really left me.’ Who would have thought a sleeping tree could do so much? Soon after this experience, Nicolas became a soldier and fought in the Thirty-Year War, one of the most devastating conflicts in European history. 

During this conflict, Nicolas was taken prisoner by the Germans and given the worst treatment. However, due to his patient mindset and strong will, he was eventually released. Soon after, he was forced out of the army due to an unprecedented leg injury. After recovering, he found work as a personal attendant, but his position there did not last long. His lame leg caused issues with his esteemed employer. Nicolas had many experiences like this throughout his life—all of which led him through war, poverty, and eventually to a monastery.
Here, in this monastery, Nicolas adopts a different, maybe more familiar name, Brother Lawrence. Upon joining the ranks of the other monks, Brother Lawrence spent the next 50 years of his life serving in the monastery as a cook, a shoe cobbler, and even a janitor of sorts. He struggled daily with understanding the presence of God and deeply desired to find ways to serve his faith. Eventually, Brother Lawrence found a home living within the community of his monastery. Over the years, he grew in his faith and spent many years learning how to value the presence of God in his life, and this knowledge influenced many of the other monks who lived alongside him.   

The practical way Brother Lawrence lived his life may seem meaningless, but for me, these teachings have influenced my faith in more ways than I could have ever imagined. There is only one book attributed to Brother Lawrence, and it is filled with simple sayings that have inspired many authors today. In truth, his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, even inspired me to write my first book, Ahavah Writings for the Journey. It is fascinating that such a humble man could inspire people more than 400 years after his death. This just goes to show that even the most unexpected people can inspire a legacy that stands beyond the test of time. 

Who is someone who has influenced your life's legacy?

~ Biography ~

Matthew James Elliott (M.J. Elliott) is a passionate writer who loves to encourage and inspire others. He has served in various ministry roles for over 15 years, which has given him a unique perspective on people and Biblical History. Matthew holds a degree in Biblical Studies from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, with a focus on Pastoral Care, Christian Education, and Worship.

Matthew is happily married to Traci, and they have three children named Leyla, Caleb, and Hannah, who bring them immense joy and inspiration. As a writer, Matthew's goal is to share love, equip others, and edify them for the greater good. He loves connecting any amount of scripture to his stories and uses his knowledge of Biblical History to do so often.

You can find Matthew's works on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and His Blog. He has written Devotionals, An Episodic Series, Novellas, and even Commentaries for The Gospel Daily.

~ Highlighted Release ~

Are you ready to dive into a captivating series that delves into the journey of a young runaway slave who discovers God in his quest for redemption? Finding Philemon is exactly that kind of series. Follow along on the unexpected journey as Onesimus embarks upon his path of faith and new beginnings.

Throughout this journey, Onesimus will encounter life-changing events that will transform the depths of his heart and aid him in discovering the redemption that only God can offer, and ultimately his way back to his former master Philemon.



*The Practice of the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence


  1. Thank you for posting today, and welcome to HHH! I loved hearing about the childhood that shaped Brother Lawrence. I have read his book, and his faith is very impactful.

    1. Thank you for your comment, I enjoy reading Brother Lawrence and am glad that his faith was impactful to you as well.

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  3. Welcome to the blog, Matthew! We're excited to have you here, and I'm looking forward to the Unexpected Legacy series.

    1. Thank you, Its been a great deal of fun researching it all.