BECAUSE OF YOUR GREAT MERCY.

The last few months I have been at times enjoying, and at other times slogging, my way through the prophets of the Old Testament.  Today’s reading hit home with something I have been thinking about, and hearing a lot about over the last few weeks; Prayer.  Some people pray out loud, and they are really good at it.  I’m more of a pray in my head and heart kinda girl. I find I’m more able to really express what I’m feeling and thinking that way.  My prayers are often as varied as my moods.  They range from petitions about my family, or work to pleas for help, and relief from feelings of unworthiness, or sadness.

Some people, maybe you are one of them, might question the point of prayer.  I would say that, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a prayer that I have prayed that God hasn’t answered.  Sometimes those answers come almost immediately, sometimes they take weeks, months and even, in some cases, years.  I’ve had people challenge me about this.  How do I know that God is answering my prayer, and it’s not just a coincidence?  When you pray a prayer, and months later you get an email that almost word for word responds to that prayer…I’d have to say that comes from God.

But, having an active prayer life doesn’t mean that you always get what you want.  Early on in my prayer life I went to God with demands, and ultimatums;  “If you want me to believe in you”…kinds of things.  But as my relationship with my heavenly Father has grown, as I see His hand in my life more clearly, and on a daily basis; I am more easily able to give up my need for control.  To trust that God has a plan for me, and to pray that he puts desires in my heart that are in line with his purpose for my life.

We have all been given a precious gift in the midst of the covid-19 crisis…time.  This is not just time we can use to reconnect with our families, but also time we can use to reconnect with our God, to spend time in his presence, to make Him a part of our daily lives.

And this brings me to the verse in the ninth chapter of Daniel that resonated with me this morning.

“We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

I will never be “good enough” to deserve to have God answer my prayer.  My answered prayers are because God is merciful, and He loves me… and He calls me His child.

This week is holy week; the week during which the Son of God, Jesus walked toward his ultimate purpose, death on a cross for all of us.  Prayer was an intricate part of Jesus’ life and if you have read, or read the gospels you will see that he often went off on his own to pray.  If prayer is something new to you and you are unsure of how to start then I offer you the prayer that Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him how to pray.

OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME.

THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.

GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.

AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES, AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US.

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL.

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, THE POWER AND THE GLORY

FOREVER AND EVER.

AMEN.

Everything you ever need to say to God is found in this prayer.

God bless,

Meredith

 

I ASK YOU…

As you may know, David and I are blessed to have the luxury of working from home, even prior to this covid-19 crisis.  We have however taken this opportunity, much like many of you, to spend more time together as a family.  One of the things we have started doing is more family movie nights with Isaac.  Thus far we have watched, Frozen II, Spies, A Dog’s Purpose and last night we watched Heaven Is For Real (on Netflix right now).

One of the things I love most about this movie is watching the very real, and painful crisis of faith the father (a pastor) goes through as he wrestles with the miraculous possibility that his son visited heaven during a life and death struggle with a ruptured appendix.  His journey is something that I think we can all relate to.  “Do we really believe in God when we are confronted with a truth or reality that makes us uncomfortable?”

I’ve had several discussions with a good friend about their biggest obstacle to being a believer; that people will think that they are dumb, or ignorant for believing in God.  We live in a world that has convinced us that it is okay to believe in a higher power.  But, if you ever dare to suggest that there is a very real God that wants an intimate relationship with his creation…and people look at you like you’re a few cards short of a deck.  That was in fact a sentiment expressed in the movie “The Bible says ‘believe his children’.  What my child’s telling me (that heaven is real) will get me laughed out of town.”

The fear of being considered a fool for believing in God was something I struggled with myself early on in my faith journey, (if you look back I posted an earlier blog about it).  But I want you to know that God isn’t a myth! He loves each and every one of us.  During these troubled times, where it seems as if every day we are confronted with increasingly frightening statistics, I ask you to consider stepping outside your comfort zone.  I ask you to consider the idea that there is indeed a Sovereign Lord in control of this universe.  I ask you to stop being afraid of what people might think of you, or your intelligence and consider allowing Him to be a part of your life.  God walks with me and beside me every single day of my life.  When I turn to Him in times of turmoil and conflict He always answers me.  He ALWAYS answers me.  I ask you to consider that even through you might not be ready for a relationship with Him right now, He’ll be ready and waiting whenever you are.

God bless and keep each and everyone of you.  And let us all pray for those on the front lines of this crisis, doctors, nurses, essential store employees who risk their lives everyday so that we can buy groceries and necessary supplies.  We are all in this together, and together we are all held in God’s hand.

Meredith

 

 

SOMETHING BIGGER.

I had a conversation a few days ago with a colleague about what was happening to comics right now, and where the industry might be when things eventually return to normal.  This individual had a very deep fear that their career was over, a feeling that I’m sure is being felt across much of the comic book industry.  Ours isn’t the only industry worried about what will be left after this crisis.  I tried to reassure this person that they had nothing to worry about, but the simple truth is none of us know when this will end, or how it will ultimately affect us.  I can tell you that this conversation opened a door to us having a very long conversation about God.  And as we talked, I kept praying for God to give me the right words, for God to use me to open the heart of this individual to His truth.

Now, more than ever we need to trust in our Heavenly Father.  It’s so easy to be ruled by our fear right now; fear of losing your job, your status within an industry, your way of life.  But, and this is something many people find difficult to accept, ALL of that is a gift from God.  “No.” you say “I work my butt off, not God, me.”  But the truth is, none of us get to write our genetic code, or pick and choose what gifts or talents we are going to be born with.  And yes, you may be an amazing artist, musician, writer, teacher, lawyer…and I don’t discount that you have worked hard to get where you are in your industry, but what you may not have seen are the many, many doors God opened for you along the way.  And, it is in times like these, that we see just how little control we really have over our own lives. Don’t let your pride (because that’s what your need to be independent from God is) prevent you from seeing and accepting all the gifts that God is offering you.  Don’t let your pride prevent you from accepting the ultimate gift…God’s love, and His hand and care over your life.

I believe that God expects us to work hard.  I also believe that he wants, and gives us every opportunity to use His gifts to their fullest.  But ultimately, I have found that only when these things go hand in hand with thanking God, and trusting in God, am I able to accept the blessings of peace, and joy, and the ability to use my gifts to their fullest potential.  I have been reading the prophet Ezekiel this week and there is one phrase that keeps getting repeated over and over again.  “They will know that I am the Lord…the Sovereign Lord.”  I think I copied it down four times in one chapter alone.  God is SOVEREIGN.  God is THE LORD.  And He’s got this.

Today I continue to give thanks for my blessings, and as this virus continues to spread through the world, I pray for each of you, that God watches over you and keeps you and your families in health and safety.  I pray for our doctors and nurses, and those who are working in groceries stores, and other essential services so that, even while we are social distancing,  we can live our lives.

Give thanks for your blessings today, and trust that God has a plan for each and every one of us.  Trust that even if a door closes as a result of this virus, you just never know what bigger, and better thing your Heavenly Father has in store.

God bless,

Meredith

YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?

Happy Monday everyone.  If you’ve been following my blog then you know that today I promised I would talk about how rediscovering the truth about how God views his relationship with me, versus how I viewed it, brought me back to blogging.

When I decided to take a break from writing comics, I knew that didn’t necessarily mean that I would be taking a break from writing.  My first and most obvious thought was that I would become a blogger.  Now to be fair, I’m not sure I’m built to be the type of blogger that has a bunch of links to stuff you can buy and pictures all over the place.  That’s  not a condemnation of those people who do that, it’s just a recognition of the fact that that  isn’t really me.   So great, I’m going to blog on a regular basis.  The only problem…I had nothing to blog about.  Because I wasn’t in a good place in my relationship with God I literally couldn’t write about God.  There was silence in my head and in my heart.

Fast forward a couple of months, to the time I wrote about in The Road Back – Part One.  I can’t remember if it was the same day, or the next day, but very soon after I really came to the place I needed to be, in my head and in my heart I got a message through Facebook.  “Meredith, I’ve been missing your blog posts…I hope you get back to doing them again soon.”  And no sooner had I posted The Road Back then I had more people reaching out telling me how much they enjoy the blog, and sharing how God had used me to speak to them. I absolutely took this as reassurance from God that I was back where I needed to be, doing what He needed me to be doing.

So where do we go from here?  Something that has struck me recently is how difficult it seems to be, even for professed Christians, for people to pick up or open, and read the Bible. Personally I want to know more about this person, Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of my faith.  I want to know more about the God I’m worshiping, and in fact, it is only through reading my Bible that I have found my relationship with God changing and deepening.  A good friend of mine told me that each day he reads his Bible he feels as if the trajectory of his day is shifted, even slightly, to the better.  Similarly, on the days he skips or forgets, maybe it moves a few degrees in the opposite direction.

Maybe you don’t have a bible. Maybe you don’t know where to start. I thought I would put a link up on my blog and share what I read each and how I do my bible study.  Maybe it will work for you, maybe it will start you on a path that works for you.  But if I’m going to write this blog, I also want to share a book that, while some might find intimidating to start, is filled with so much hope and love once you dive in.  Please note that I an NOT a biblical scholar, or priest or pastor.  I’m just a person like you, sharing what I think, in the hope that God will show you a truth that speaks to your heart.  So watch for that link to appear at the top of my blog in the next few days.  Meanwhile I’ll keep doing this too; talking about my faith and how I’m learning and growing in it.

Today I’m going to leave you with a few verses from my reading of Lamentations yesterday that I found uplifting in these challenging times.

“I called on your name, O Lord from the depths of the pit.  You heard my plea; Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.   You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”    Lamentations 3:55-57

I pray that God watches over each of you today and keeps you safe and strong and free from fear.  Trust in Him.

God bless you,

Meredith

THE ROAD BACK – PART TWO

Yesterday I talked a bit about my crisis of faith, and feeling as if I had let down God.  I wish that I was one of those people who just walked a path of faith that was straight and narrow with bright lights, and I never wavered.  Apparently that’s not how I was made.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe your relationship with God ebbs and flows.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with his love, and the certainty that you are loved by him.  Sometimes all you can feel is darkness, and the weight of oppression pushing you down.

I promised yesterday that I would talk about the new insight God shared with me about my own feelings of guilt, and unworthiness.  Would it surprise you if I told you it came from the introduction to the book of Job in my bible?  If you are not familiar with the book of Job it goes something like this:  God and Satan are having a discussion, and God invites Satan to “consider my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8  Satan suggests that Job is only faithful because God has blessed him so greatly.  God then allows Satan to take everything from Job, first his family and wealth, and then eventually his health.  Throughout much of the book Job believes God is punishing him unjustly for a sin(s) he has not committed and he angrily demands that God allow him to defend himself, but NEVER does he curse God as Satan suggests he will.  At the end of the book Job faithfulness is rewarded, he is restored to health and everything he lost is given back to him, twice as much.

That was a long way of getting to my point. At the beginning of this book the following  explanation is given  “The relationship between God and man is not exclusive and closed.  A third party intrudes, the great adversary.  This adversary or tempter seeks to alienate man from God; as accuser (one of the names by which he is called, śatan means “accuser”) he seeks to alienate God from man.  His all-consuming purpose is to drive an irremovable wedge between God and man, to effect an alienation that cannot be reconciled.  Can you see why this explanation was EXACTLY the wisdom I needed to hear?  When I “accuse” myself before God, when I tell myself I am not good enough or I’m not doing enough, I am doing the work of God’s adversary.  I am allowing an “accusation” that I level at myself to drive a wedge between me and my Heavenly Father – to alienate me from God.

Now, pair that with Romans Chapter 7 which I also happened to be reading that day.  In this chapter, Paul – the guy who wrote 14 of the 27 “chapters” or “books” of the New Testament – that same Paul who encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus; Paul wrote this: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”  Romans 7:18-19

THAT IS ME!!!  I can’t tell you how many times I have felt that exact way, and if God’s hand-picked messenger Paul can feel this way, then I have hope.  It was this that helped me to understand more fully, more clearly, more deeply the meaning of the gift that Jesus offers each and everyone of us.  The gift that I needed to open my hand to accept…Freedom from condemnation.  And in fact Paul states this very fact in the first verse of Chapter 8.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

So there it is.  I allow the great adversary, Satan, the devil, whatever you want to call him, into my life when I accuse myself before God.  It is not God who is pulling away from me, but rather the very opposite, I am separating myself from Him.  One of my favorite bible verses is 1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 

When we accuse ourselves we are acting in fear; fear of not being good enough, of not being loved.  Whatever it is; that fear, that accusation you are directing at yourself – recognize that it is a wedge being used to separate you from God’s perfect love.  A love that has no condemnation.

On Monday let’s talk about how this truth brought me back to blogging, and where I go from here.  Today, I pray that God blesses you so that you may walk through your day free from fear, basking in the certainty and warmth of his perfect love.

Meredith

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

Careless Words

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:34

Several times this month I have found a passage in my readings that speaks to me and then brings me to a new understanding of some of the readings we repeat each Sunday as a part of our service and where they come from.  This one today hit home particularly for me because this month I found myself lashing out at my family.  Fall is always a difficult time for me as the days grow shorter.  But for some reason, this year I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed.  Even the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning have, at times, felt like mountains to climb.   And those feelings I have nurtured in my heart, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and frustration, have of course flowed out of my heart via my mouth to hurt the ones I love.

This morning as I prayed on this verse and asked for God’s help, I found myself repeating familiar words…“cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy spirit that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name, through Christ our Lord”.

This verse comes from the Collect for Purity and is a part of our Anglican service every Sunday.    The entire collect goes like this; Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I can only think that this collect was directly inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew in recognition of the struggles we all face; to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts, so that it is the good stored inside us that comes out of our mouths, and not the evil.

I will continue to pray that my heart be cleansed so that when I am called to give an account for the words I have spoken, the good far outweighs the evil, in Jesus’ name.  Amen

God bless,

Meredith