I can’t recall a weekend in recent memory when I have shed more tears or felt more overwhelmed. This Easter weekend I have watched parking lots fill with people who can’t afford to feed their families. I have watched western nations burying bodies in mass graves. In these times of sadness, and untold sorrows, I feel keenly how much miss my church…my church family.
Perhaps your heart, like mine so desperately needs the joy this Easter morning brings with it, the celebration of our risen Lord, the celebration of his victory over death, at a time when it feels as if we are surrounded by it.
To steal a phrase from our beloved Archdeacon Matthewman at Church of the Ascension, “the shadow of Christ is over all of us today, even those who don’t know it yet”. I pray that, much like his disciples did that Easter Sunday morning 2,000 years ago, we are all able to fully experience the wonder, and the joy and the miracle of His resurrection. Christ is risen, Alleluia!!
I’ve spent the last couple of days reading the gospels leading up to Maundy Thursday, reading about that final night Jesus spent with his disciples. It’s painful to read about the struggle the Son of God went through on that final night. We all have free will, it is up to us to choose how we behave in any given situation (even if sometimes, like children, we blame our behavior another person). But sometimes we forget that Jesus had a choice to make too. On that final night, in the garden of Gethsemane he prayed and pleaded with his Heavenly Father “that if possible the hour might pass from him, ‘Abba, Father’, he said, ‘everything is possible for your. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Mark 14:36
Jesus was the incarnation of God, the embodiment of our Heavenly Father in human form, and he had very real, very human feelings. I can imagine on that night the pain he was feeling in his heart knowing that he was going to have to leave his beloved friends. The fear and trepidation he must have felt knowing the cruelty, and suffering that was to come both on the cross, and before. But I think sometimes we forget the biggest burden that he would carry for us. “He became sin, who knew no sin.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. And even still, despite all the prophecies, despite everything leading up to this moment, He had to choose.
There have been many times that I have tried to get my head around what was so special about the death of Jesus that we continue to honor and worship him thousands of years later. He certainly wasn’t the first person or last person to die cruelly for his or her beliefs. So then why? Why did an entire religion rise up around this man? Why was his death special? I’ve only recently come to understand that a large part of it isn’t just the resurrection story. There’s something more here…Because he BECAME sin. Jesus was the Son of God, part of the Trinity. He was part of the brightest, more pure, most loving force in the universe and he gave all of that up for us, and went down into the heart of darkness. The weight of my own guilt can be crushing sometimes. But Jesus, all at once, He became every dark deed everyone of us has done, or will ever do. He became murder, corruption, filth, greed, lust, lies…He allowed everything that was pure and beautiful about himself to be stripped away for our sake. He allowed himself to be separated from his Heavenly Father and given over to evil for our sake. I wonder if when Jesus was praying in the garden if it wasn’t the cross he was asking to be saved from, but the suffering, the agony of not feeling, of being in the presence, the peace, the love of God?
So as we walk these final few days toward the joy of Easter morning, I want to keep my mind on the gift that was given to each and every one of us upon that cross. Freedom. No more is our path to God blocked, but the blood of the lamb has paved the way for each and every one of us to experience the peace, the love, the presence of the One, True and Ever Living God. Praise be to God.
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.
“Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” 1Corinthians 2:16
It feels surreal, everything that we are doing as a global population to fight covid-19. I’m sure if you are waking up this Monday morning not going into work you might feel differently. Because both David and I work from home, and we have been homeschooling Isaac for more than a year, this Monday feels like any other. I wake up, walk the dog, and then Isaac and I sit down to do our school work. There’s still no teenager walking around (even though he isn’t at school, he won’t appear until sometime after mid-day).
But, the reality of our new lives with Covid-19 doesn’t take that long to worm it’s way back into the spotlight of even my life. I have only to open a newspaper, Facebook, turn on the TV. I think what scares me most is the unknown. How long will we live apart from our loved ones? How long will we be laid off from our jobs? Will we have jobs to go back to? How will the world be different?
I have been trying to fill my days so that I don’t have to engage these fears. Cleaning closest, painting bedrooms. But in those moments of stillness, as I lie in bed at night I can feel the fear creeping into my heart. Who will I lose before this is over? If I get covid-19 will I make it? Maybe you’ve experienced some, or even all, of these same thoughts. The only solution I have is to turn to God. Every time I feel my chest tighten, or my stress and anxiety start to rise I turn to my Heavenly Father.
In Matthew 6:25-27 Jesus tells his followers “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body… look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who among you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
and in Matthew 6:33-34 he reminds us “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
And in 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul reminds us that “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
I’m just going to keep holding on to these messages of hope and trust that my Father in heaven is bigger than anything I could fear here on earth.
Here’s a song that I hope will help lift you up today if you are feeling scared or blue.
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.
In these rapidly changing, and challenging times I’m sure we’ve all had them; days when we give into our fear, and despondency. Yesterday, we learned that our industry is coming to a standstill, like so many others. It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when this global emergency comes to an end. Yesterday was not my finest day. I felt anxious and tense; and I ran into one disaster after another – including dinner. Sigh. So, last night as I lay in bed I reached out to God, just as I quoted from Lamentations yesterday; I cried out to him from the pit, and I fell asleep confident that he heard my cry.
This morning I was reading Roman 12 & 13. And I’m going to share a few verses with you that helped me.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:13. These were words I needed to hear. This was the verse I meditated on this morning.
And as provinces and states are shutting down and declaring states of emergency, I felt this verse to be helpful.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1
I know I personally have railed against the increasingly stringent measure that are being put into place to keep us all safe. But reading this verse reminds me that I should instead be praying for “the authorities…God’s servants who gave their time to governing.” Romans 13:6
With everything that is happening it is so easy to lose sight of where I need to keep my focus. I want to go through today, and these next few weeks, and perhaps months, holding fast to this mantra; “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
God is good, and I KNOW that he will use this situation to his glory.
If you have a prayer request, please feel free to reach out and I would be happy to pray for you.
God bless, stay safe and don’t forget to check out today’s reading from John.
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.
Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much recently. I think it’s fair to say that I went through a period of time during which I very seriously questioned what I was doing as a writer. I write these next words to share my experience and I genuinely ask that you not respond by telling me how you feel about me as a writer (good or bad). I’m sharing this story because I believe that part of the appeal of this blog is that I share my faith journey, through it’s ups and downs, openly and honestly.
For the past six years I have been pursing a writing career in comics. I am not naturally a person to put myself forward, believing that the quality, or lack there of, determines the demand for your work. I think that it is fair to say that my career in comics has been moderately successful. I’ve written Wonder Woman, Conan, my own comics. But throughout this experience, while I strongly believe my work has an emotional appeal, I have never really been the type of writer that companies clamor for. That’s okay. But what I began to feel recently, was that perhaps writing comics wasn’t a road God intended me to walk forever. But if I wasn’t writing comics, what was I?
I’ve struggled with my decision to walk away, to retire from writing comics, even as I’ve told myself that the time, and energy I had previously devoted to it was now being directed toward homeschooling our youngest. But, I loved writing THE BOOK OF RUTH. I mean I really, REALLY loved writing it. I loved it so much I initially thought I would do another one right afterward…initially. But after the Kickstarter was over, and I looked at the overall financial cost of putting out my own comic, there began to be a part of me that felt as if God had let me down. Hadn’t I put myself out there? Hadn’t I written material that was faith based? Promoted it? Found a publisher for it? Absolutely I raised an amazing amount from Kickstarter and Indigogo (and I feel so blessed, and so much gratitude to my backers), but I had still funded a significant portion of that book from my own pocket? I simply couldn’t afford to keep writing comics like that. I was ready and willing to serve, to put his word out there. Couldn’t He help me out a little? At least help me to break even, so I could do another one?
Anyone who’s ridden on that roller coaster knows that feeling like God has let you down is the upside. The questioning and worry about letting him down is the long drop to the bottom.
I spent several months going through the motions, reading my bible, saying my prayers half-heartedly. Even listening to music didn’t lift my heart like it used to. I was walking through a spiritual valley. So how did I get out? And where am I now?
Some of you may have read my post last week about realizing I needed to open my hand to accept the gift God was offering me. Even then I still was only beginning to get to the place I needed to be, to the place God needed me to be. This past weekend I felt as if I was spinning at 100 miles an hour, so frustrated, and pent up, and lost. And, I felt with all my lashing out, and anger at my loved ones, and those around me that I must be a huge disappointment to God. How far had I fallen from the woman who had danced through hallways with songs of praise in her heart months earlier?
Church for us, as for many people, was cancelled on Sunday. I raced through my bible reading that morning hating myself, and the way I was feeling to such an extent that I just wanted to loose myself in the internet. But as I opened my browser to check my Pinterest, I found myself typing something entirely different. You’ll get lots of blogs and posts if you type in disappointing God. I fully believe that posts I found were absolutely the ones I needed to read to put me back on the right path. I also believe that you have to be in a place where you are “open” – last week’s post – to receive what you are going to read or hear.
Tomorrow I’ll share with you the new insight God gave into my feelings of self-doubt, and why I’m back blogging again.
Have an amazing day knowing that you are a child of God and He will care for you, just as you would care for, and watch over your own children.
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.
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.