I TURN TO YOU.

“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.

God bless,

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

It’s Supposed To Be Personalized!

I don’t think it would be fair to say that I have had a crisis of faith lately.  I think it would be better phrased if I said that I had started questioning some of the things that I had held onto as core beliefs.  “How did that happen?” you might ask.  It seems almost counter-intuitive, but I have come to understand that it is much easier for your faith to be undermined from within.

A few months back I signed up to get daily emails from a Christian website.  Some of the emails I really enjoyed and got something out of.  Sure I still read my bible every day, but, as much as I wanted them to deepen my understanding, maybe on some level, I looked for them to be a “fast-food” means of increasing my knowledge of God.  A post about Christian mystics got me really questioning the reality of the experiences I felt that I had with God.  But the one that really sent me over the edge was the one that tried to explain why not all believers will be recognized by Jesus.  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now I’m not saying that these posts didn’t have value.  What I am saying is that they didn’t have value for me.  Perhaps I wasn’t ready spiritually for their message.

But there I was, questioning God and my relationship with him, feeling uncomfortable in my heart with the things I had been reading.  So I thought back to some of the books I have read that truly made me feel as if I had gained a real understanding of God; C.S. Lewis and J.I.Packer.  Ultimately I ended up on Packer and and started reading his book KNOWING GOD. I wasn’t a chapter into it before I felt the rightness of the message within the book.  It fed me.  I hadn’t realized until that moment that I had been starving.

So what’s my point here?  I am absolutely not condemning the daily devotional that I had been getting, but I had to recognize that instead of feeding ME, it was putting distance between me and God.  And I am always brought back to the word Jesus uses to describe God, the word that we use to identify him withing the Trinity…God THE FATHER.  I am a child of God and I think he parents us much like we parent our own children – there is a different set of rules and instructions for each of us.  Ultimately it is for each of us to find our own way – and it is for no one to tell us our path is wrong if we are following it with an honest and earnest heart, bent upon knowing and loving our Lord.  If God has called us to be his children, will He not also show us the way?

I know that going forward, if it isn’t bringing me to a new understanding, and is instead pushing me farther from, instead of closer to God, then that isn’t the resource for me.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else, though.  Perhaps Jesus tells us the the road we walk will be a difficult one because it is one that we must each forge ourselves.

God bless,

Meredith