Sometimes It’s Hard.

Trust in God.  I know it’s important and I do.  But where is the line between being active in your own life and trusting in God’s plan?  How do I know that I’ve done enough in today’s media driven society where everyone is competing for the consumer dollar to promote my work?

What brings on this line of questioning you ask?  I generally don’t look at monthly comic book sales figures.  I know how much my comic Rose from Image is selling and I don’t find it helpful or productive to compare myself to what everyone else is doing.  That being said, I was curious to see how well my latest project The Light Princess (an adaptation of the George MacDonald classic, published by Cave Pictures Publishing) was doing.  To say that I was crushed when I saw the numbers is not an over exaggeration.  I feel like this comic is so special and inspiring and beautiful and to see such a low number of issue one sold was heartbreaking.  And this is where I started asking the question, did I do enough?

From the very beginning I have felt that my work with Cave Pictures Publishing was divinely driven.  The email that they sent to approach me and introduce me to the company was almost word for word exactly like a prayer I had been praying over and about my work.  And as I write these words I am remembering exactly what I prayed, “that my work be used to bring glory to God and not to myself”.  Pause for a moment of self-reflection here because I think as I write this I have found my answer….

If God guided me toward this project, if God provided the perfect artist for this project, and if all of this came at the perfect time, in the perfect way, then I need to stop worrying and trust that he has a plan for The Light Princess that is beyond me and my understanding.  Furthermore, I am reminded of these words written about George MacDonald. “MacDonald was singularly unconcerned with his own ‘image’ among his fellow men, preoccupied rather with championing his vision of the reality of the world of the spirit. ‘Perhaps the highest moral height which a man can reach,’ he wrote, ‘…is the willingness to be nothing relatively, so that he attain that positive excellence which the original conditions of his being render not merely possible, but imperative. It is nothing to a man to be greater or less than another – to be esteemed or otherwise by the public or private world in which he moves.’  He (MacDonald) determined to leave his reputation and destiny in the hands of his God.”

How can I do anything less?  Thank you Father for reminding me to trust in you and your plan for my life today.

God bless,

Meredith

I don’t like you.

“Is it a Sin to not like someone?”  That was the question I typed into Google this morning.  We all have them, people in our lives who rub us the wrong way, or with whom we simply have a personality conflict.  And it was something I was struggling with myself.  What I read coincided with what I already knew in my heart, that these types of situations in our lives are both a blessing and a curse.  They are an opportunity for temptation, and sin to take root in our hearts.  But they are also a means for us to overcome that, and allow God’s love to work in our hearts.

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like unto it; Love your neighbor as yourself.  I think most of us understand that loving your neighbor means treating people kindly, respectfully, the way you would want to be treated. Every interaction we have in our lives is a means for us to demonstrate, and share the love of Christ with the world around us; at the grocery store, the bank, the Tim Horton’s drive thru.

I also think we can apply this same logic and reasoning to people to have a more significant role in our lives.  You aren’t required to have an intimate or close relationship with someone you don’t like, but you do need to treat them respectfully, kindly, gently.  It’s easy when you don’t like someone to speak badly of them, to want to convince others to share your feelings because, we feel justified in our feelings if we aren’t alone in them.  But part of loving you neighbor is not doing that.  It’s about working to recognize the good qualities in that person, and the positive ways that they impact people in their own lives.  And it’s about praying, asking God to help you see that person in a new way; the way He sees them.  Maybe we aren’t called by God to like everyone, but we are absolutely called by God to love everyone.

This Lenten season I can feel God calling on me to examine the ways in which I allow sin to take root in my own heart.  I can feel him calling on me to examine the ways in which my interactions and relationships with others are, and are not, reflective of how he wants me to live.  I can feel temptation tapping me on the shoulder in my relationships.  And I know that it is simply not possible for me to defeat it alone.  I can only cling to God, pray that he guides my heart and my words, shows me where I can be better, and strengthens me in the face of temptation.  Lent is a time for us to examine ourselves, our behaviors, and our hearts.  I thank God for his patience with me, that in the face of all my stumbling and groping around, he continues to love me, and that he fills me with his unfailing love, so that I can pour that out in my own interactions.

It’s easy to forget that the point of life is this journey; this process of coming to know God.  It’s about two steps forward and one step back.  And the people in our lives, our daily interactions are so often the cause of both.  That’s why a life of faith is such a difficult road to walk.  But, if we listen to Jesus, and love our Father with all of our heart, and soul, and mind, then he will help us with everything else, including loving our neighbor.

God bless,

Meredith

 

Taking a Leap!

What is faith?  The dictionary defines is as the complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  Synonyms for faith include, reliance, dependence and belief.

I think all of those words sum up fairly well what God wants, and expects from us when it comes to our faith.  He wants us to rely, or depend upon Him to provide for us, and our needs, even when we don’t fully understand what that is ourselves.  He wants us to have complete trust in Him and His love for us.   He wants us to walk through each day confident that He is by our side, walking each step of our journey with us.

But if faith is the cornerstone of our relationship with God, why is faith is so incredibly difficult to find? And, in our modern world, where we have come to rely on science and technology to give us answers, questions about faith are even harder to answer.  We want proof for our belief, proof before we will believe.

I’ve been reading the book God’s Crime Scene by J. Warner Wallace recently.  And, while I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, the case for a creator of the universe, as presented by a seasoned detective who solved more than his share of cold cases, is compelling.  I can and would suggest you read it, but here’s the thing… You are only going to be convinced if you want to be convinced.

Haven’t you noticed that about people these days?  Everyone is a debater.  Everyone has an opinion that they are convinced is right, but very few people are actually willing to listen to an alternative viewpoint.  If you are struggling to believe, with your faith, then I would suggest that there is really only one thing you can do.  Make a decision.  Decide to believe.  If you’re wrong, and there is no God, then what have you lost?  You’ve lived a life of love? You’ve found strength and comfort in times of sorrow? You’ve found meaning or a purpose for your existence?  But if there is a God, and you don’t believe…you’ve lost out on the greatest gift possible.  An eternity in heaven, bathed in the overwhelming love of God.  For me, belief is an easy win, win situation.  But an eternity in heaven isn’t the reason I believe.

We are an aimless people without faith.  We were designed by our creator to have a searching soul, to have a place in our hearts that needs to be filled with something.  Some people choose to fill that searching with money, with material possessions, with fame.   And I would be a hypocrite to not acknowledge that God has blessed my family with a comfortable life.  But it’s not the house, or the cars or the big TV’s that fill my heart with joy every morning; that bring me to my knees.  It’s love of God.  It’s being loved by God.

If you are struggling in your belief I would offer you this comfort…you are struggling because there is a part of you that can’t ignore God’s call.  You can try to drown it out with the world around us, but if He is determined to have you as His child, there is no power on earth strong enough to stand in His way.  Take heart, and make a leap and choose faith.  What have you got to lose?  What could you possibly gain?

God bless,

Meredith

Flat On My Face.

Do you sometimes struggles with ways to express your contrition before God?  I didn’t grow up in the Catholic church which has an established system of confession and absolution.  I was brought up in the United Church which has a very staid, conservative, and moderate faith.  As an adult I converted to the Anglican or Episcopalian church because I found that the service gave me the sense of peace and sense of communion with God that I had been missing.  I love everything about Anglicanism; the kneelers, the weekly communion, the confessions and Glorias.  Being in my church, and participating in that service, brings me a feeling of being in the presence of God in a way that I didn’t find in other services.  The great thing about faith is that there are enough different styles of worship to suit everyone.

But as much as there are a variety of different ways to worship God, I think that there is really only one way to come before him as a sinner.  With a penitent heart.  I talked earlier this year about how forgiving myself can sometimes be harder than coming to God for forgiveness.  I also think that it’s can often be at those time that we are riding high in God’s grace that we fall hardest, that we feel most ashamed.  We understand how completely we have separated ourselves, from who, and what God calls us to be, by our actions.

I have had an amazing week with God.  I called Saturday my day of little blessings.  I could see God’s hand in my life everywhere I looked.  I guess it seems appropriate that Sunday would be a day I would fall flat on my face.  A day in which I would lash out and react with anger instead of love.  I woke up this morning knowing that I had done the wrong thing, feeling the weight of it in my heart, and needing a way to become right with God.  I thank him that the first thing he did was to take the anger, and resentment out of my heart, and replace it with an understanding that it doesn’t matter if the world at large would consider my actions justified, if I was in the right.  What matters is how I responded, and I didn’t respond with love.  I needed to atone to that other person for that.  I needed to apologize and ask God’s forgiveness for that.

The amazing thing about God is that he already knows what I’m going to need and he provides me with the solution.  I didn’t do my bible reading yesterday.  It literally didn’t even cross my mind to do it.  Because God knew that I would need yesterday’s reading today.  Psalm 51.  This morning I read that Psalm, and then I wrote it out, and then I prayed the verses I have highlighted here as a meditation.  God spoke to my heart, and because I came to him with an open and penitent heart, he not only gave me forgiveness, he also gave me the means to forgive myself.  I guess sometimes you have to fall flat on your face in order to learn to let God to pick you up.  It hurts my heart to know how kind and loving our Lord is toward us, even when we don’t deserve it.  He really is the ultimate Father.  I don’t know what my future has in store, but I know that if God already has the answer before I even ask the question, if he’s always going to be there to pick me up when I fall down, then He’s who I want to have walking beside me every step of the way.

God bless,

Meredith

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. (NIV Study Bible)

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

The Perfect Weakness.

How is your Lenten journey going?  Today is day four and I’m feeling pretty good.  I feel different this year, like I have a new resolve.  I truly feel strengthened knowing that I can’t do this on my own and that I’m absolutely going to be relying on God to help get me through my times of weakness.  It’s a strange feeling, acknowledging weakness and actually feeling stronger for doing so.  I’m usually the person who has it all together, or at least that’s the impression I give.  (If I’m wrong, please don’t tell me.)  Paul writes about this same moment of clarity in 2 Corinthians 12:9  ‘But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest on me.’

While I may be feeling strong about my Lenten journey, there are other areas in my life where I am tamping down a growing sense of chaos and panic.  I have so many things to do and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed.  I have three projects I’m working on from a writing perspective and because I am now homeschooling Isaac in the morning I have had to shift my days around and work at night.  I’m sure that this will get easier as the days get longer, but it is definitely a challenge to sit down at 7 or 8:00 and shift my brain into creative mode.  That’s not to mention the housecleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, meal making and carpooling, and errand running I’m starting to letting slip. I’m trying to be more efficient with my time, I was at the grocery store this week at 8:15, after I dropped the big boys off at school.  But, I’m a creature of habit and I’m struggling to fit everything in right now.  I know that God has called me to be active in all of these areas and that I just have to keep reminding myself that if I trust in him, he will provide.

My devotional today reminded me of that very thing.  Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling  “The world around you seems to spin faster and faster…yet there is a cushion of calm at the center of your life where you live in union with Me.  Return to this soothing center as often as you can, for this is where you are energized; filled with my Love, Joy and Peace.”  I have definitely felt God’s hand on my heart this week.  That overwhelming love and joy that brings you to tears.  I think it was His way of preparing me for this understanding today.  His way of letting me know that He is here for me and if I trust in Him, He will not let me fall.  If I am feeling strengthened in my Lenten journey knowing that he will help me through my times of weakness, then I need to believe that giving him these feelings, these weaknesses, will result in the same.  God doesn’t want us to turn to him with parts of ourselves, he wants all of us. His love is enough to take anything and everything we can give him.  I’m going to give him my chaos today, and trust that he can handle it.

Are there areas in your life that are feeling chaotic or are spinning out of control that God is calling you to share with Him?

This song by Danny Gokey just kept speaking to my heart this week every time I heard it.

God bless,

Meredith