All you have to do is ask.

Today in my readings Paul talks about “…behaving decently, as in the daytime” Romans 13:13.  And I’m not going to say anything new here, but sometimes it bears repeating, it helps to be reminded.  How many of us exhibit behaviours in the privacy of our own homes, behind the closed doors of hotel rooms, or it the darkened anonymity of bars and night clubs, behaviours that we would never want our mothers, our children, our friends to see.  That’s what Paul is talking about. And he’s not just talking about our physical deeds, but our emotional ones as well, the ones we keep secret in our hearts, the jealousies, the coveting, the dissensions and grievances.

I will be the first one to admit that there are things I might say or do in my own house that I would never want other people to see or hear.  Losing my temper, slamming doors, speaking badly of someone.  I do them all.  I forget that someone is always watching.  That my actions never occur in a vacuum.  That’s why Paul’s words are so important.  In this letter to the Romans he is calling on them, on us, to “put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light”.  Are you asking yourself how?  Or have you convinced yourself that your behaviours in those times were justified, or that they drove you to it.  That they deserved what they got or that’s just how you were made.

I won’t even tell you that those things aren’t true. But part of what Paul is telling us, part of the message of Jesus, and the reason he died for us and our sins is that we are called to be better.  To rise up against our own sinful nature, “the way we were made” and put aside the deeds of darkness.  If you’re like me, maybe you’ve tried this before, but feel as if you always slip back, you always fall down and maybe you’ve even reached the point of giving up. I can relate.  But today I’d like to tell you that we are supposed to fail, in fact we will fail every single time if we are trying to go it alone.  I have come to learn that the absolute only way I can be a different person is through Christ.  Time and time again the bible calls upon us to surrender ourselves to our Father in heaven.  But we are so stubborn, so determined to have our independence that we refuse, we protest the freedom and light that is offered to us freely.  But that’s okay.  Because our time here on earth is about that journey.  About gaining a gradual understanding of the power of the life and death and love of Jesus Christ and God our Father.

So if there is a darkness in your heart or a heaviness in your spirit, know that you don’t have to shine a light on it yourself, you don’t have to carry the burden, because there is someone greater than you who will happily do it for you.  Someone who wants to do it for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith

Called By God.

One of my favorite writers of the New Testament is Paul.  I don’t know why, but I just feel such a connection to him and a truth speaking to me in his writings.  And one of my favorite of his letters is Ephesians.  Today I started working on my reading and as a general rule, I tend start by copying my daily verse or psalm or chapter in a notebook.  I’m one of those people whose brain learns best by slowing down and writing something.  It also gives me a chance to go back and underline stuff that I find speaks to me.

So I had just finished writing out Ephesians 4:1-9 when I realized that the verses I was supposed to be reading were Ephesians 5:6-20 (also great btw).  But here’s where I thought, well I guess God really wanted to read this part of chapter 4 because I had to double take to even figure out how I could have possible mis-read what today’s reading was.  And since this was the part I felt compelled to blog about, one of you people reading this blog post also needed this verse today.

What was Ephesians 4:1-9 about you ask?  Unity in the Body of Christ.  And here are verses 1-7 for you to read and reflect on with me.

“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble, and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

That you know God is no accident.  He called you.  He chose you.  He loves you.  All you have to do is reach out and accept the grace that Christ has apportioned to you.

God bless,

Meredith

Giving Of Yourself.

Giving generously of your wealth.  It’s talked about often in the bible; by Jesus and Paul, in the Old Testament and in the New.  But so often we assume that the giving is simply referring to our financial wealth.  Perhaps that’s because money and physical riches have become so important in our consumer driven society.

But in many ways, giving money is one of the easiest ways of giving.  Politicians are constantly throwing money at problems, because it gives the appearance of something happening.  But what if giving of our financial wealth isn’t really what Jesus was talking about?  What if he meant for us to give generously of our truth wealth; our time, our hearts, our talents?  I know for myself, that becomes a much bigger hill to climb.

It never feels as if there are enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.  It’s hard to think about sacrificing the precious few minutes of peace I have.  It’s hard to think about giving more of myself than I already give to my family and friends.  But I think that is really what God is calling us to do.  Or what he is calling me to do.  Because giving generously is personal.  It’s about you finding the gift that God has given you that is hardest for you to share.  Maybe for you it is money.  Maybe it’s your time.  Maybe it’s your talent.  I think this is partly what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24  And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus is speaks of taking care of the poor, he isn’t just referring to those who are poor of wallet, but those who are poor of heart, and mind and spirit.

Where is God calling you to give generously in your life?  Who are the poor he is calling on you to take care of ?

God bless,

Meredith

Don’t Be One Of The Nine.

Times of crisis; when everything seems lost…these are most often the times we reach out to a power greater than ourselves.  These are the times we find ourselves on our knees, we find ourselves making bargins, begging, willing to consider miracles possible, if only they can be for us.  I’ve been there myself.

Luke Chapter 17:11-19 tells the story of Jesus healing no less than ten leapers at one time on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem.  As part of the process He sends them to a priest to be cleansed.  In the end, only one comes back to thank him and give praise to God for this miracle.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Because we are so often more like the nine who didn’t return, than the one who did.  We ask God to do something for us, we promise we will go back to church, start praying again, be better…but no sooner do we get what we want, then we are right back to our old ways.  We aren’t true to our word.  We take God’s gifts and we forget to say thank you.  We dull ourselves to the wonder of the miracle we have experienced.

Thankfully God is always faithful and he doesn’t hold a grudge.  He knows even as we say those words, as we make those promises and bargins if we are going to be true, and He is ever hopeful that we will choose Him.

For some people the only relationship they have with God is one of asking.  I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  I think of it instead as simply a stop on their journey.  God would rather you ask him for things than have nothing to do with him.  And think about your children.  When they are young all they do is ask for things.  In fact when they are very young, when they are babies, they don’t just ask, they demand!  Sometimes loudly.  So if you are in a place where all you find yourself doing is asking God for things, that’s okay.  But as you grow in your relationship and your faith, you will find yourself more like a teenager or a young adult, able to give thanks, to appreciate your blessings.  And I think as you continue to grow you will eventually find yourself in a much more adult relationship, more like a parent or friend than a child.  Able to give and listen and wait upon the Lord. You will find yourself becoming a servant; grateful to be useful, wanting to be used.

Jesus says to the the one who returns, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Part of  faith is recognizing and giving thanks for our blessings, for the miracles God works in our lives.   I feel as if Natalie Grant sums up how we should approach this story and our faith perfectly in her song “More than Anything”  “Help me want the Healer more than the healing.  Help me want the Savior more than the saving.  Help me want the Giver more than the giving.  Help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

God bless,

Meredith

Making Your Own Luck.

Last night David and I were having a discussion about luck.  I was telling him how grateful I felt that a friend’s life was saved from what could have been a devastating and potentially fatal condition, and his response was that she was lucky.

Yesterday I wrote about giving up control of your life to Jesus, and I think that this idea of getting lucky is, in many ways, part of that.  Personally, I no longer believe in luck.  If I get a green light, that is a blessing from God; an amazing parking spot? Thank you, Jesus.  Why is it so much easier for us to believe that good things happen by random chance than it is to believe that something good happened because we have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants what’s best for us?

I think that part of the reason is something many struggle with, because good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.  And it’s hard to understand how a loving Father could give a good mother cancer, or see a father killed in a car accident.  And bad things don’t just happen to good people, they happen to Christians and non-believers alike, they happen to innocent children.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers here and this was something that David and I discussed, and I’m sure we’ll have more discussions about.  But here’s what I know from my own life experience.  When my oldest son was born I was filled with so many hopes and joys and expectations for who and what he would become.  Never once could I have imagined the road God put me on with him.  We have been through multiple diagnoses, traumatic brain injuries, self-abuse, staff abuse, and so many tears.  For many, many years I couldn’t understand why God gave me a son with so many challenges. At times I thought it was a punishment, at others I simply turned my back on God.  What I couldn’t see, while I was down in the trenches, when I was walking through the valley, was God’s bigger plan.  I didn’t see how Hayden’s brain injury would result in his eventual transition to a community home where he would be given incredible support.  I didn’t see how this would result in our family actually becoming a family again, instead of a single parent household while the other parent managed and cared exclusively for Hayden.  I didn’t see how this would give me the chance to simply be Hayden’s mother again instead of constantly focusing on therapies and treatments and then being too exhausted for anything more.  God has a plan for each and every one of us and I believe that the more we thank Him for our blessings, the more we reach out and try to have a relationship with Him…the more we find ourselves able to trust in Him and his plan for us.

I have no idea the ripple effect my son Hayden has in the lives of those he meets, and interacts with on a daily basis at school, in the community, in his own home.  There are still many days when all I can do is give him to God, trust in God and his plan for Hayden, for our family, for me.   I do know that I no longer believe anything in my life is a result of chance.  If I choose to believe in a God who was capable of creating the heavens and the earth, who can bring the dead to life, how can I not believe in a creator who is capable of watching over me in my daily life.

And I guess that brings us back to where we started. In the end it always comes down to the same thing; the reason there is good and bad in this world…choice or free-will.  You can choose to believe that the good things that happen to you are good luck, and the bad things similarly, or you can choose to believe that the good things that happen to you are blessings from a loving Father and the bad things?  Challenges, opportunities for growth, doors opening to new chapters you couldn’t imagine were possible.  Sometimes to climb a mountain you have to walk through a valley.  Maybe the meaning of life is as simple as choice, and if it is, I know God wants you to choose Him.

God bless,

Meredith

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

Seriously?!!!!

Have you ever wondered if God is really listening to your prayers?  I do sometimes.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Holy Spirit and His role and importance in our lives and our growth and development as children of God.  And honestly as I’ve been reading I’ve been feeling not even a little like a failure.  To the point where last night I was lying in bed and my prayer was specifically about this, about what I can do to listen to, and feel more fully the Spirit in my life.

Normally I start each morning reading my bible, then I’ll read my daily page from Jesus Calling and then I’ll write my blog post.  This morning I ended up doing everything in reverse.  I wrote my post about trusting in God, then since my computer was already open to my ebooks, I decided to read my daily devotional next and then jump into my bible.  These are literally the first words I read.  You can’t make this stuff up.  “Thank Me for the glorious gift of My Spirit.”

So yes, God absolutely hears our prayers, he knows the questions of our hearts and he will absolutely answer us when we come to him with our earnest petitions.  It’s in subtle ways and, in today’s case, blatantly obvious ones that our God reminds us that we are important to Him and how much He loves us.

How is God speaking to you today?

God bless,

Meredith