I Surrender

It’s a tough balancing act; being active in your own life, and trusting in God, and it’s one I’ve been struggling with lately.  I have all these plans about what should happen, and how things should go, and I want to make sure I do my part, because I do believe that God expects us to work hard. But I think where I have fallen down, where I have become confused, is in the aftermath of the work.  I’ve tried to control what happens when the work God has given me is complete, and no longer solely mine.  I haven’t trusted Him to do what needs to be done, or at least what I think needs to be done.

It’s in these attempts to take control over aspects of our lives, aspects over which we really should have no expectation of control, that we begin to feel a distancing from God; or at least I have.  Each day I continue to read my bible, to pray, to reach out, but I know that there is something between us, something interfering in my relationship.  I’ve written before about how easily I slip into the “I’ve done something wrong” mindset, and this time has been no exception.  I have wracked my brain, examined my life, tried to figure out what I’m doing, or not doing, that has disappointed God, that has caused him to pull away from me.

Today I was reading Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 4, and these words stood out; “it was credited to him by faith”, “righteousness that comes by faith”  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Paul writes often about being “justified by faith” and it was these words that I felt held the key to what I was missing.  Was it simply that my faith was not…enough?

I did some research and found one website that provided my epiphany (see the link below if you want to read the full article).  I’ll share here the points that I wrote down:

“God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him which is believed.”   Richard Hooker (A Discourse of Justification)

It is the acceptance of the guilty by reason of a Trusted Christ”

Divine welcome of the guilty as if they were not guilty by reliance upon Jesus Christ”

“Surrender is not the price paid for peace – it is the open hand necessary to appropriate the gift of it.”

Can you see what I was doing wrong?  Those times that I feel most connected to my heavenly Father are the times that I step back and “surrender” all aspects of my life to Him.  They are the moments when I “rely” upon him.  I had closed my hand and was no longer able to offer the gift that He was continuing to hold out to me.  Peace.  It is so easy to forget this in a world where we can have the illusion of control over everything.  I can schedule when I’m going to pick up my groceries, how quickly my packages arrive, haircuts, appointments…I can even do it all from my phone!  Sure, I can acknowledge that there are things over which I have no control – other cars on the road, sickness, death.  But it’s hard to let go of control over the things that are closest to you, that are a part of you, like your kids, and for me, my work.  But I guess the point God wanted me to realize, the point I finally got today (but am sure I’ll need reminders of) is that once you’ve done the work, raised the kids, once you send them out into the world…that is the time when it is the most important to trust God, to trust in His plan for you, for your children, for your life.

So today I surrender.  I have done my best, I have done what I felt God called me to do, and now it’s time to let it go.  To sit back, and relax, and trust in his plan.  I’m opening my hand to accept the peace that comes from surrendering myself and my life to “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” Romans 4:17

Here’s the link for any of you who would like to read the full article.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/torrey_ra/fundamentals/48.cfm

And I think this song by Carrie Underwood says it all.

God bless,

Meredith

THE CRY OF YOUR HEART.

Ever since Christmas I have been struggling with a general sense of fatigue and lethargy.  Maybe it’s S.A.D.  Maybe it’s feeling overwhelmed with my life.  Whatever the reason I felt burnt out. I have struggled with the simplest daily tasks of life; preparing meals, doing laundry…and with other tasks that have been important to me; reading my bible and prayer.  I have offered up half-hearted prayers over the past month.  Sometimes all I have been able to say is the Lord’s Prayer with my child before he goes to bed.  I have begun to question the core of my faith.  I have felt as if I can never be good enough, never worthy enough of God.  I have gone through SO many days recently when I have truly felt as if my faith was being tested. And I have cried out to God that right now, in this moment, I am the one…and he needs to leave the 99 for me.  I have prayed with an apology in my heart; “I’m sorry Lord, but I need a sign.  I am in an emotional valley and I need to feel you, to know that you are here with me.  I am counting on your promises.  I am holding fast to them, even in my questioning.

Even in my doubting, in the depths of my heart, I couldn’t help myself, there was a small party of me that believed… that God would hear me, that He would help me.”

Today he overwhelmed me with his response.

Today I got a text message from a friend out of the blue and he shared a song with me.  Today I drove past a field filled with 1,000 white swans.  Today my son shared a movie that lifted and inspired me.  Today God surrounded me with love.  Today God blessed me.  Today I was reminded that I am exactly who I am supposed to be and that “Jesus paid it all”…just for me.

God will never fail me.

I’m not going to pretend that I will wake up tomorrow and feel amazing. This valley I am walking through won’t suddenly disappear overnight.  But I am so grateful to be reminded that I am not walking alone.

God bless each of you and if you are struggling, just keep praying, even if you can’t find the words, God knows the secret cry of your heart.

Meredith

The Solution

“…the solution to our problems is not in the ingenuity of the rocket, or the science or the technology or even the bravery. No, the answer is in here, or wherever it is that faith resides. (Prince Philip, THE CROWN, Season 3, episode 7 “Moondust”)

Faith…in God, in his divine purpose for us and our lives is “the solution” and there is not a day that I don’t turn to God in pray and supplication to get me through. I am so incredibly grateful for my faith. I love it when a program I am watching has the courage to acknowledge it as well.

What are you giving?

Most days, as part of our school day, Isaac and I do a bible study or devotional.  Recently we read Genesis 4:1-7.  It’s the story of Cain and Abel.  In the scripture it reads “Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord.  Abel too, brought an offering: the first-born lamb of one of his sheep.”

Prior to reading this scripture I had been struggling, reaching out to God, but feeling as if I was being held at an arms length.  But, as I read it with Isaac, one word stood out as if it was written in neon letters…”some”.  Cain brought “some” of his harvest and gave it to the Lord.  And if you know the story, then you know that his offering was found to be lacking.  It was lacking to such an extent that the Lord refused to accept it.

How many times have I come before the Lord with “some” of me.  How many times have I read my bible, gone to church, or prayed as a part of my routine, and not from my heart.  God was giving me a message – loud and clear.  He doesn’t want my half-hearted measures – he wants ALL of me!  My feelings of distance and being kept at arms length suddenly made so much sense.

Absolutely I believe that God wants a relationship with all of us.  But I also feel as if at some point in the development of that relationship he calls us to step up.  We can’t hold anything back from God.  He wants us to acknowledge that everything we have comes from him.  That’s what Abel did.  That is the reason that his offering was acceptable and Cain’s wasn’t.  Abel said “look at this beautiful, first-born lamb.  If not for God, I would not have this blessing.  I will, I must give it to him.”  In contrast, Cain said “I worked hard for all of this food, I gave the sweat off  my brow, the ache in my back.  I’ll give something of what I have earned to God because I should.

How many times in my own life can I see Abel?  How many more times do I see Cain? God wants to fill our lives with blessings.  It is part of the reason Jesus taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”  But we also need to surrender our pride, our insistence on self-reliance and acknowledge that truly “all things come of thee, and of thine own, have we given thee.”

The world of 2020 wants you to believe that you are responsible for you.  But I want you to pause for a moment and consider the idea that a worldly view, puts you in Cain’s position.  You’ve heard the quote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift––that is why it is called the present.”  Each day is indeed a gift – from our Lord and when we come to him…when I come to him, I want to come to him like Abel…appreciating his blessings and giving him my very best.

This week Isaac and I have tried to keep the idea of giving God our best as our focus, and I think that it has brought each of us into a closer communion with him.  Are you giving God the best you have to offer?

God bless!

Meredith

 

 

 

ONE REASON, AND ONE REASON ONLY.

I don’t know if it’s because my kids are getting older, or because I tend to do most of my shopping online now instead of at the mall, or if it’s simply that my heart is changing…but this year I have found myself focused more on the birth of a child then on Santa, and stuff.

Earlier this year a new show about Jesus came into being.  Called THE CHOSEN, it is a re-examining of the life of Christ, all of it paid for through the biggest crowdfunding ever raised.  The show is truly special and worth seeing, if you haven’t (especially the Christmas special that started it all).  But the reason I mention it, is that I recently watched a little video from them about the significance of the swaddling clothes.

All of my life I have believed that the swaddling clothes were partly an indication of the financial status of Mary and Joseph – to show that the king of the world was born like the least of us.  And hey, I swaddled all of my children, it’s been a common practice among mothers for centuries.  But what I didn’t know, was that the shepherds to whom the angels appeared were the shepherds who were raising the Passover lambs.  These lambs had to be flawless…perfect, without blemish.  And in order to ensure that they were…they were swaddled.

This Christmas as you sit down to celebrate with family and friends I pray that you spend a moment thinking about the child who was born to be the perfect sacrifice.  The child who would one day die for our sins, for one reason, and one reason only…to bring us to God.  For me, that is the gift I will be celebrating receiving this Christmas.  Glory to God in the highest.

God bless you!

Meredith

Here is a link to the Facebook page of THE CHOSEN for any of you that are interested.  https://www.facebook.com/InsideTheChosen/

MORE BLESSINGS!

Another round of “Thank Yous” from THE BOOK OF RUTH.

Thank you so much…

Jared Boggess
Kyle Jamison
Lauren
Waller Hastings
Johnny McCloskey
Agnieszka
Mark Britt
Tom
James Pedrick
Josh
Levi Calip-Richardson
Leigh M
Gerald Lange
Kyle
Jake Campbell
Paul Watt
Scott Behren
Billy
Christopher Lowe
David T
Candido
Andrew Dalhouse
Bailey Gould
Travis Curtis
Luke Italiano
Madeline Turnipseed
Tiffany U
Everett
Nelly
Brett DaSilva
Janice Hamm
Ty Boucher
Wayne Kiehne
Scott Beasley
Mark
Cynthia Connell
Dustin Carr
Allison Bork
Michael Yuhasz
Jennifer
Kelly W
Aaron Plattner
Daniel
Richard Libera

THANK YOU SO MUCH – TBOR KICKSTARTER

Here is the next round of thank yous to my AMAZING backers from THE BOOK OF RUTH.

Thank you SO MUCH…!

Joi W.
Heather McKenzie
Darby
Christine Parman
Hector Miray
Michael Sukow
Gwynllan Walker
Matthew
Jessica Adkins
Steven Paradise
Jon McQuery
Christopher Weedin
Mark H
Jamaal
Amy
Nina F
Lindsay
Chip Brown
Steve Orlando
Frank DiCola
Larry Y.
Jason Fabok
Landon Cheben
Jesse Wightman
Hartman
Kevin Yong
Kevin Corcoran
Yanira C.
Rhonda Reynolds
Chloe Cunningham
Isabelle Angell
Jonathan Dusseau
Sally T
Aaron Keck
Haley Martin
Thomas DeVries
Mark Lopez
Andrew Nusbaum
Natalie Boow
Doug TenNapel
Ken Gilbert
Paolo B
Alecia
Vanessa Bodell
Mike
Keely F
Wayne Jamel
Rob W
Laura Morrison
Diana L

IT’S JUST SOOOO HARD!

Why is it that almost the second you decide to try to do better, temptation comes to show you just how weak you really are?  I think that probably applies to most things that tempt us, chocolate cake when you are on a diet, a new pair of shoes when you are watching your spending.  How are we supposed to win?!

Today for my bible study I was reading Ecclesiastes and James.  Both chapters specifically addressed my biggest failing as a Christian…my tongue.  James 3 is even appropriately titled Taming the Tongue. 

“…but no man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  James 3:8.

“With  our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.”  James 3:9

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.” James 3:10

Guilty, guilty, guilty.  I have often wondered why, when we were created by God to praise and love him, it is so darn hard to live up to his standards?  I think it must be a big reason why so many people have fallen away from “religion”.  Once you get past the whole feel good “Jesus comes to save the world and forgive our sins part” there’s an expectation, a call to live a better life, to set a higher standard for your behaviour.  And just like you felt guilt when you did something wrong as a child, you feel badly, guilty about not living up to being the person you know God is calling you to be.  It’s easier to just walk away, especially in those early days.

Last night as I was driving Isaac back from his riding lesson I heard a song on the radio (see below), and it really drove home something that I think we all need to remember.  It’s good to be alive.  God gave us life to enjoy it.  A relationship with God is about feeling better, not worse.  Feeling not good enough, living with guilt… that is a lie told by the enemy, and one I’ve fallen victim too far too often.  When we feel as if we aren’t living up to God’s standards we should be turning toward him, not away.

I’ve been pretty honest here about how my own faith has ebbed and flowed over the years.  It’s even possible that I might stray away again, like a lost sheep.  But I feel grateful that, for right now, I am so tied to my Lord.  The more I have thrown myself at him whole-heartedly, the more I have felt his presence in my life on a daily basis.  And that’s why it is so darn frustrating to recognize at times that I am just as awful a sinner as I ever was, and that ole tongue is the major source of my failing.  But I also take comfort from the words of Ecclesiastes 7, verse 20 that I read this morning…”There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”  and verse 18 “the man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” 

I am a sinner.  I will always be a sinner.  Just like my own children, as a child of God I will continue to make mistakes, to fall down.  And just as I would pick up my own children, wipe their tears and forgive them for any of their failings or mistakes, so too does God forgive me.  All I have to do is ask.  And truth be told, we are probably never fair to ourselves.  I believe that the Spirit lives in me, and is changing me into the person God calls me to be.  Some days he just chips off smaller pieces of this piece of clay than others.  God knows all things.  He knows when I’m having a bad day, when I’m stressed out, when I’m feeling out of control.  He also knows the days when I’ve got it all together.  I think he expects more from us in those times that we are more capable (just as we would with our own children).  Maybe some days, instead of chipping of pieces of this piece of clay, he just holds me in his hands and pours his love out onto me.

I pray for all those people who are struggling with their faith and with those feelings of not being good enough. God sent his only son into the world so that, while we might feel those things, we wouldn’t have to live with the burden of guilt for our failures.  I pray that instead of turning away from God in those times, we instead turn ourselves more fully toward him.

God bless,

Meredith

USING THE RIGHT WORDS.

The quest for the “perfect” Christmas can make this an exhausting time of year for many.  I have found myself increasingly in that category as the years go by.  I’ve lost the joy of buying presents, putting up the Christmas decorations, baking.  Instead of looking forward to these activities they have become a chore; another box to tick.  I begrudge the way they pull me out of my routine.

But even as that is happening, I can feel the call of that baby.  The Incarnation.  It’s not a word that I grew up with or using with any regularity, and while many of us are familiar with the miracle of the Resurrection, I sometimes feel that we are missing out on the meaning of the gift we are truly celebrating on December 25.  The Incarnation – God became man.  Just saying the word, dwelling on that, the “perfectness” of that gift, I find my heart filled with the joy that I thought I was missing.  I find myself filled with love; love of God and mankind.

Jesus isn’t just the reason for the season; the love that fills peoples hearts at this time of year, that makes them more generous, more courteous, more kind — THAT IS JESUS.  Jesus isn’t just the reason for the season, Jesus is the season.  God incarnated.  God made man.  The miracle of that birth stretches across centuries, across generations, across racial, and cultural divides to give us a glimpse of something truly special.

When I find myself dwelling on that miracle, I realize that I need to approach each of my Christmas “tasks” as an act of thanksgiving, an act of celebration of the miracle of the virgin birth.  James 2:26 says “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”  If I have faith and if I believe “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11. then I need to look no further to find meaning in Christmas.  I need to approach each and everything I do (my deeds), as a part of my Christmas celebrations, as an act of love; as a gift offered before that baby boy. At this time of year, it isn’t just about my faith, it’s about offering up my deeds, to let them be my offering, just as the wise men offered their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.  Over the next few weeks I don’t want to celebrate Christmas, I want to celebrate the magic of, the miracle of the Incarnation.  God made man.  Halleluiah!

MERRY INCARNATION!

God bless,

Meredith

THANK YOU – ROUND TWO

And here’s the second group of “Thank yous” for my amazing backers.

THANK YOU SO MUCH…
Andy Schmidt
Andy Mahoney
Wilco
Kris Bather
John
Robert L Vaughn
Lola
Marshall Hinson
Lucas Brandon
Simon
Jay Lofstead
Bert Maes
S. J. Malarkey
Brian Rodman
Leon Glaser
Jim Kosmicki
Tyler Sexson
Kevin R.
Jackie Y.
Brian Ross
Ewa Boldok
Paul Cassella
Korana
Stephen Disney
David Wade
Jake Modica
Jeff & Erin W.
John Wimmer
Kathryn Calamia
Faiz M.
Michelle Tennant
Daniel Verbit