THE BITTER ROOT.

November was a month that was filled with blessings (although I admit to being a wee bit exhausted at the end of it).  Thanks to the prayers and generosity of many who allowed God to work through them, my Kickstarter for THE BOOK OF RUTH was more than 100% funded when it ended.  Through that entire process I could feel God’s hand, working, reaching out and putting it in front of the people who needed to see it, speaking to their hearts.  And for me it was definitely an exercise in trust, and the power of faith.  There were many times I just had to “step back and let God”.  And there were so many people who lifted me up with words of encouragement and prayers.  God is good.  And I want to say thank you again, to everyone who shared and supported RUTH.

You might be asking yourself if I’m feeling so blessed, why the title of today’s blog post is about bitterness.  Let me explain.  As often as we revel in God’s blessings in our lives, we are just as often tempted by sin.  This past week, within my community of faith, I have been wrestling with a situation.  I found myself being pushed out of a role that I had taken pride in.  A role that I enjoyed and looked forward to doing.  And I wasn’t happy about it.  In fact, I was very hurt.  I don’t know if the people involved even considered my feelings, I would even say that it didn’t cross their minds that I might be upset.  They just did what it was that they wanted to do.

This was a situation in which, while I didn’t feel it was necessary to take a stand and try to get my way, my first instinct was to step back.  To no longer participate in that particular group. As Dave puts it “to take my ball and go home.”  But I also spent time and prayed about it.  I asked God for help, because I wasn’t 100% convinced that my first response was the correct one.  There were other people outside of the situation that needed to be considered.  Maybe stepping away was the right thing, but maybe this wasn’t the right way to do it, or the right emotional mindset to be making that decision in.  And thankfully I had a week in which to make that decision.

It’s very easy to assign reasons and emotions to the actions of others, but it can be much harder to look at our own motivations.  I will say, however that I instantly recognized that pride was a part of the equation from my side.  I took pride in doing this particular job.  But maybe someone else needed to feel that pride more than I did.  I have found so many places in my life to share my faith, am I so greedy as to not be able to share the spotlight?  And stepping out completely also meant stepping away from those who needed someone to advocate for them.

I have continued to bring this situation and specifically my feelings about it before God this week and today this was the passage I read.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see God.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12:14.

If we, as children of God, seek to live holy lives, lives that emulate the life of Christ, then I have to consider His response to every situation – to this situation.  I know Christ would step aside graciously, and throw His support completely behind this peer.  And I know that is what God wants for me.  I can’t allow bitterness to take root in my heart and cause trouble.  I think this is why pride is such a subtle and dangerous sin.  But if Jesus could scorn the shame of the cross, then I can certainly give up my pride and help someone  have their own chance at ministering to others and being proud.

If there is a place in your life where you have a similar situation, or are finding pride is damaging a relationship, I encourage you to bring it before God and allow his healing power to change your heart just as he changed mine.

God Bless,

Meredith

What Kind of Person Would I Be?

We all have good days and bad day.  And then sometimes we have days that are complete and total disasters, when we feel completely out of sync with who and what we are.  Yesterday morning was one of those for me.  I could feel the tension as soon as I woke up.  So much to do and not enough time to do it in.  I raced around the house trying to knock things off of my list before settling down with Isaac to begin his school day.  But as I sat there I could still feel the tension in my temples, my clenched jaw.  I was practically vibrating.

Let’s just say that school did not go well and I was less than kind to my sweet, little boy.  Angry word are like toothpaste, you can’t ever take them back.  All you can do is ask for forgiveness.  This morning Isaac and I were talking about our experience yesterday and he reassured me “don’t worry mom, we all have bad days, I forgive you”.  I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated his understanding.  And then, from my sweet little child, came such a brilliant piece of wisdom… “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t forgive you?”  Indeed, Isaac, what kind of a person would you be.  What a special gift he gave me this morning, and with such unconditional love.

And it just reminded me again of the amazing gift we have been given as children of God.  Last night as I lay in bed I felt just awful about my behaviour toward a child that I love and adore.  And though I prayed for forgiveness, I just couldn’t give it to myself.  But Isaac reminded me this morning…to err is human, to forgive divine.  I will always make mistakes no matter how hard I may try to be perfect.  But there is always forgiveness available to me in those times that I fall.  And the biggest lie of all is when we don’t take that forgiveness, offered to us just as Isaac offered it to me this morning, freely, innocently and unconditionally.  When we refuse to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and failings, and lack of perfection we are turning our backs on the most beautiful gift it is possible to receive.

If my child can offer forgiveness so freely, how much more powerful is the forgiveness offered to us by Christ.  Give Him your cares and your burdens and let Him show you how to forgive yourself, just as He has forgiven you; to love yourself as much as He loves you.

God bless,

Meredith

The Older Son

This morning my Lenten reading was Luke 15:11-32, The Prodigal Son.  I understand that the point of the story is that God celebrates when a child who was once lost is found.  I totally get that.  But, not even a small part of me sides with the older son every single time I read this story.  It’s probably because I empathize with him.  I’ve always been that child; the one who does what is asked, who works hard and does what is expected. Those who are in the “know” will tell you that Jesus told this story about the Pharisees (the older son), and contrasted them with his followers, the lost and broken (the younger son).  But when I read this I get something different from it.  It speaks to me, and my own life differently.

I think sometimes what gets missed here is the cry of the older son when he says “You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”  The father’s response is “you are always with me and everything I have is yours.”  How much of this exchange reflects our own lives and relationships.  We take for granted those people and things that come easily to us.  The son in this story is crying out to his father to be acknowledged, to be appreciated, to experience the outward show of love that is being demonstrated toward his younger brother upon his return.

By the same token the father is almost shocked that his son doesn’t know how much he loves and values him.  He assumed that his actions, and his daily living were all demonstrations of the deep, and abiding love he had for this elder child.  Both men failed to communicate their feelings, and as a result a disagreement, or rift occurred in their relationship.

How often in our own lives, in our own relationships, in our marriages do we play the role of the father and assume that our loved ones know how we feel about them? How often are we the elder son, harboring resentment because we are unwilling to actually communicate our feelings of neglect or abdonment to our loved ones.  I think that this is a powerful story about the love of a father for his children, but also a powerful one about the importance of open and honest communication.  If you love someone, it should be okay for you to tell them how you are feeling.  Perhaps if the elder son had spoken up earlier, he wouldn’t have felt resentful of the time ,and attention his prodigal brother was receiving. Perhaps he would have been as joyful as his father upon the return of one who “was lost and is now found”. And by the same token, we need to be aware of those who uphold, and support us, and appreciate them.

I’m often guilty of that very thing.  Our middle son Everett is quit simply the easiest child ever.  Sure we have our squabbles, and disagreements but, I have never worried for him.  He succeeds at everything he puts himself to, he’s charming and charismatic, and he is fully, and completely capable in life.  Our eldest has special needs, our youngest, God bless him is joyfully innocent and carefree.  I worry about them, I probably give them more time and attention, not simply because they demand it, but because I want to make sure they succeed.  Perhaps you have a situation like this in your house?

I feel blessed that God gives me reminders to spend special time with Everett.  To tell him how much I love him, how proud I am of him, and how amazing I think he is.  I never want my children to feel less important than one another.  I don’t want be the parent who looks at a child with surprise one day and says “of course I love you, you are always with me and everything I have is yours”.

I think the story of the prodigal son is absolutely a story about a parent’s love for their children; a story about God’s love for the lost, and the found.  But, I also think it is a reminder to cherish, and appreciate those closest to us; be it a spouse, a parent, a sibling or a child. Make it a point today to tell someone, you maybe don’t say it to enough, how much you love and appreciate them.

God bless,

Meredith