Drop Everything!

The calling of the disciples.  Have you ever given much thought to exactly what those twelve men were called to do?  I mean sure they got to walk beside Jesus and perform miracles, but they were also called to walk away from everything, EVERYTHING in their lives…we are foolish if we don’t count the cost of what they were asked to give up;  wives and children, homes and security.  Could you imagine yourself doing the same?  Honestly I don’t know if I could.

Of course I could walk away from my house, and most of my possessions, but what about that ring my beloved grandmother gave me?  And don’t even get me started on my kids.  I mean I know I’ll eventually have to give them up, but on my terms, when they are old enough to leave the house and go to college.  Except that’s not really true is it?  I could lose everything tomorrow, today even.  We live our lives with such an illusion of control.  We put our kids in travel sports, Kumon, music, etc. all because we are determined to make them into their best selves… except anyone who’s ever had more than one child knows that you really don’t have much control over how athletic they are, how smart they are, how friendly, kind, caring they are.  Our children are born with their own personalities and while we can sand off some of the sharp edges, and we can love them unconditionally and teach them values and principles, they will ultimately be who and what they are going to be.  No parent of a murderer thinks that they are going to raise a killer.

So when Jesus called on his disciples to give up everything, he wasn’t really asking them to give up anything that was really theirs to begin with.  There are a lot of people, my husband included, who believe that we are successful in life because we work hard.  I don’t discount that.  I absolutely believe that hard work matters. But, I also think it’s important to remember how much of your success was simply because of who you were born to be, because you were born with an aptitude for something, or a gift?  I was born with a love of books and an aptitude for writing.  That was a gift.  How I choose to develop it, or what I choose to do with it is entirely up to me, but in the end, it will always be a gift from God, not something of my own creation.

So the question we have to ask ourselves instead, is what are we willing to give up when Jesus calls us to be disciples?  Websters defines a disciple as one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as a Christianity.   In Luke 9:22-27 Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”  I think that what he is calling on us to do here is give up the illusion of control and trust in him.

How many times have you found in your own life that the more you try to control a situation, the less control you actually have… the more you “lose” control?  When Jesus calls us to give up our families, to deny ourselves and to lose our lives to save them, he is calling on us to surrender our illusions, to trust in him completely. And it is in giving up our illusions that we find the peace and comfort and joy.  Today’s world is determined to convince you that you are in control, with your smart phone you can turn on your car, your lights, your furnace, all from across town.  But do those things really matter, or are they illusions to distract you from the fact that you aren’t really in control of anything important?  You can’t control if you are going to get cancer, or if you will be in a car accident, or even if your children will make it home safely from school today.  I guess if those things aren’t really under my control, then I find it a lot more comfortable knowing that they are under the control of the One who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow;  The Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.

What is Jesus calling you to do today?  To follow him?  To become a disciple? To give up your illusions?  I have personally found great comfort and peace giving up my life and family to Jesus.  I know he can and will do the same for you.  All you have to do is ask.

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.

Who’s Your God?

February has been an interesting month for me.  All through January I was feeling a bit confused because I hadn’t really felt God calling me to write my blog and I didn’t understand why.  I felt as if I was doing something wrong, or maybe I was letting him down.  Then at the end of the month the reason became crystal clear.  We made the decision to pull our youngest out of the public school system and take on the job of home schooling him.

I feel as if I should tell you that it was a difficult decision. It wasn’t. For the last seven years (he was in grade 5 this year) I have told every teacher that he is our square peg and school is his round hole.  Each September I sit down and try to provide the teacher with strategies to help him succeed and ask that she/he keep the lines of communication open so that I can do my part at home.  This year I hit the wall.  His teacher told me that it was pointless for him to study for tests because he wouldn’t remember any of it anyway a couple of days later.  WHAT??!!!  I mean that’s basically how I got through first year  university.  But what a defeatest attitude from the woman who is responsible for my child?!  That was the moment I knew that we were done.

So for the past two and a half weeks I have been working with Isaac every morning.  We’ve gone backwards a few steps to make sure he really has his basics (especially in math), but we can also go forwards as fast as he is capable of.  And let me tell you…the difference I have noticed in him has been nothing short of miraculous. My child who couldn’t sit still or be quiet for five minutes sits at my counter, head down, getting his work done.  Sure he talks every once in a while, but the difference from day one to now is remarkable.  At his riding lesson last Thursday he spent the entire time focused and paying attention.  If you didn’t know better you’d think I’d put him on medication.

So why am I writing this?  Because I am so grateful to God for calling me to take a step back from one thing in preparation for the next big change in our lives.  We’ve hired a nanny to spend afternoons with him so I can get some work done, and we have fun Friday’s where we learn science and do art.

But the thing I want to really call attention to is how God provides and has provided for me.  Prior to taking on home schooling anyone of my friends would tell you that I was a busy woman.  I would have told you the same thing and no way did I have hours of free time each morning. But when you trust in God, he provides you with everything you need.  It took almost no time to get into a routine that gave me time to work with Isaac, time to write my stories, and time for me to exercise, ride, spend time with Dave, with friends.  God is so amazing and so good to me, and I want to give him all the praise and glory in this because I know without him this would not be possible.  I would not feel so calm and relaxed.  I simply could not do it.

When you listen to what God is calling you to do; when you open yourself up to Him…He will always show you the way.  He is so good and He has great plans for you.  I know that he has great plans for Isaac and that this was the next step that he needed us to take to make sure he reaches his true potential.

Where in your life is God calling you?  Maybe it’s a financial decision, a career change, or a deeper relationship with the God.  Are you listening?  Do you trust in him to provide?

I want to share these words with you from my bible reading today.  “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3

The other part of my reading that really spoke to my heart today was this.  “You are my God, and I will give you thanks, you are my God and I will exalt you.”  Psalm 118:28

Are you missing out on letting God act in your life with power and love?  Are you missing out on a chance to exalt Him?  Claim Him as your God and let Him do more than you can ask or imagine in your own life.

I’ll leave you today with a Zach Williams song that shares some of these same words.  YOU’RE MY GOD!!!

God Bless,

Meredith

A Box Full of Kittens.

It feels as if it has been forever since I’ve written anything.  It’s not that things haven’t been happening, but it’s hard to know how to put into words the subtle reminders I get of God’s grace, and plan for my life.  But, I thought I would try with a story about something that has happened in my life recently.  This something only reiterates for me how important it is to trust in Him, to really give my problems and worries up to Him and let Him work His will in your life.

I have been struggling with a situation in my life that has been looming over me and causing me quite a bit of stress and not stress at the same time, because the solution I ultimately came to was; something that makes me feel bad about myself, probably isn’t good for me to have in my life.  I prayed about this particular situation quite a bit, and in recognition of my goal to let go of misplaced feelings of guilt for 2019, I had basically put it into a box and moved on.

But as I’m sure you are all aware.  You can put something into a box all you want.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to stay there.  And of course, my box popped open and I was again faced with the stress and confusion of this particular situation.  I just sat there feeling like I really didn’t know how I was going to handle it.  But each day, since I put that monster in it’s box, I spent time in prayer and reading and meditation.  And guess what? God responded.  My bible readings were about trust, my devotionals were about trust and almost every single quote that came up on my daily bible app was about trust.  Here’s an example…

In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

or how about this…

For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

God heard my prayers, and reassured me with his presence, and his word that I didn’t need to worry.  He had it.  With the confidence that I believe can only come from the faith of knowing that your Father in heaven has your back and only wants what is good for you, I prepared myself to face the contents of my box.  And what did I find when I opened it?

The great big scary monster I anticipated facing, was a sweet little kitten.  I trusted in God, I put my faith in Him, and in His time, in His way, he fought my monster for me, and there was nothing left for me to face but love.

God is good, and if you can find it in yourself to give him your box, you might find that he’s more than capable of turning your monsters into kittens too.  Or chocolate…whatever works for you.

God bless,

Meredith

 

 

So Good to Me

I’m stealing the title of a Zack Williams song tonight for my blog because I can’t come up with any better way to saying how I feel.

January has been a month of crossroads and revelations for me personally and, I think, in some ways for our family as well.  This month I have had to make difficult decisions about some of my personal relationships. This month I have struggled with a wavering belief in my own sense of competency.  This month I have been faced with choices of motherhood or career.

But this month, as I promised myself I would, I persevered in my faith.  In times where I felt distant from God, I didn’t lay blame…not on myself, or on God.  In times when I felt low, I focused on my heavenly Father.  I stuck to my daily bible study of praise and  repeating and believing in my heart the idea and mantra, “Praise the Lord, O my soul.”    And, as he promised I would, in his time, I can clearly see God’s work in my life over the last month.

I can honestly say that January is a month in which I’ve had to made difficult decisions, but I have done them with a prayerful heart, filled with thanksgiving for the blessings God has given me.  And today God revealed how he has been working for me, even when I was unaware.  God is so good…so good to me.

If you are reading this blog and thinking to yourself, I know exactly how you feel, Meredith, then I am so thankful that you have come to know our Lord.  But if you are reading this and wishing that you could have this too; this knowledge, this certainty that God is working in your heart, in your life…then tonight is the night I tell you that you absolutely can.  You aren’t joining a cult, you aren’t going to lose who and what you are and you definitely don’t need to be afraid.  Fear is evil’s way of keeping you from knowing God.

If you want to know the certainty that I have experienced this month, then I give you Romans 8:31.  “What then shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”  WHO CAN BE AGAINST US!!!  God is for all of us.  For you and for me.  He is just waiting for you to open the door of your heart and invite him in.

God bless,

Meredith   (Here is the audio track for that Zack Williams song below)