MERCY, ABIDE IN ME

Mercy Abide In MeHave mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

 

“But I’m not a sinner,” I said to her. “I have never murdered anyone or robbed a bank.” My best friend and college roommate was shoving a religious tract under my nose while telling me about her “conversion” to Christianity. I wanted none of it. I was certain I did not need anything from God. At the ripe old age of twenty-six, I had not realized—yet—what that little incident on a mountain in Colorado the year before had really meant. Yeah, that time when God literally delivered me from the hands of a crazed rapist wielding a gun and a huge chain with which he intended to secure me to a tree in a remote forest. When I cried out to a God I didn’t even believe in, the man crumbled to the ground and then fled, most probably sparing me a slow death on the forest floor where no one would have found me.

 

Still, by the time Jan caught up with me, I wasn’t ready to admit that I needed God. My life was out of control, but I didn’t even recognize that either. St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) admonished, “For the most part, all (our) trials and disturbances come from our not understanding ourselves.” What a loaded statement! But I had just completed a master’s degree in counseling, further proof that I didn’t need any help figuring out life’s complexities. Perhaps failure to admit we need God’s grace is “the sin against the Holy Spirit” the Apostle Paul spoke about in Ephesians 4:30. What could be more offensive to our Lord than for us to reject His everlasting love, compassion, and forgiveness for us? But that’s exactly what I did. Until one day I didn’t.

 

Finally, grace broke through and I began to change. I no longer fought to block God’s loving energy from flooding into my entire being. And—miraculously—I began to understand myself through the lens of God’s mighty mercy. Letting God love me revealed how to love others. And, more importantly, when I saw what God loved in me, I was able to love myself.

 

All-Loving God, You see in me what I can be in Your eyes. Thank You for Your grace. Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

WORLD PEACE

World Peace FlagsI urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

World Peace? How is it possible to imagine that in today’s world? According to worldpopulationsreview.com, “As of 2018, there are…a total of fifty nations that have a dictator or authoritarian regime ruling the nation to this day. Europe is home to one.., while three…can be found in Latin America and South America…,eight…in Asia, seven in the Eurasian region of the world, and twelve…from the northern parts of Africa to the Middle East.” And worldatlas.com reports Syria is the most war-torn country in the world, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan; other countries experiencing “war” (including threats from other nations, civil unrest, gang and drug conflicts, etc.) today include Ukraine, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, and Central African Republic. Many other nations are dealing with ongoing political partisanship, the rise of hate groups, and religious and human rights battles among their populace. The concept of world peace seems further away than it did even a decade ago.

 

1 Timothy above among our daily readings for today. I remembered that Jesus came into this world during a time of political and civil unrest. At the time of Christ’s birth, Israel was an occupied nation, under the strong arm of the Roman government. The Romans, in concert with the Jewish religious leaders of the day, executed Jesus on false charges. The Romans were still in power when Paul’s protégé Timothy was a leader in the Christian church at Ephesus (now modern Turkey). Paul urged Timothy to pray “for kings and all those in authority” in the hope that these prayers would bring “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It’s hard to think of strong-arm governments like the Roman Empire allowing the people to live “peaceful and quiet lives!” Indeed, the Romans sought to keep the people in line!

 

Paul’s admonitions apply today as well. We must continue to pray that world leaders will take their responsibilities seriously. We can pray fervently that leaders who see themselves above their people will have a change of heart and move towards compassion for others.

 

Lord, heal this broken world, we pray! Bring all nations into “peaceful and quiet lives.” Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Ocean LinerPeace I leave with You, My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

 

On the brink of another year, what does it mean to have peace in your life? In John 14, Jesus’ words are difficult for the disciples to understand. Jesus says He is going away, not what these men want to hear. But He also says He will return, and even more puzzling, that God will send the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—to help them. The disciples are not comforted; they want Jesus to stay. His words leave them uneasy and restless.

 

What the men don’t grasp is that Jesus is always with them, even when they cannot see or touch or hear Him. He has already inhabited their beings, and though they are fearful, they will soon be emboldened to carry His message far and wide. They will start a movement still with us today: the church that our Lord Jesus asked them to inaugurate. Before their own earthly deaths, they will know the promise of eternal life is theirs. It is well with their souls.

 

Composer Horatio Spafford wrote one of the church’s most beloved songs, “It Is Well With My Soul” (often called “When Peace Like a River”) in 1876. One would think he penned these beautiful words when he was praising God for his many blessings. But nothing could be further from the truth. After losing a two-year-old son in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead on the Ville de Havre steamship for a European vacation. He delayed joining them until some business could be attended to. The ship sank, with only his wife surviving. Aboard a second ship, on his way to meet his grieving wife, Stafford wrote the words to the song as he passed by the place where the ill-fated vessel had sunk. At the lowest point in his life, he proclaimed that, with God, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

 

Jesus, You know our human situation can be dire and dismal. We praise You for dwelling in our hearts and providing peace and comfort all year long. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

ASHAMED

Greta ThunbergThe earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. Psalm 24:1

 

Greta Thunberg arrived on the climate crisis scene like a meteor crashing into the earth—the fragile earth that she is trying desperately to protect. The sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist is pleading with the adults throughout the world to do all they can to reverse the effects of human-induced climate change that multiple experts claim will begin ruining the planet before Greta herself is an adult. Speaking at the United Nations climate action summit earlier this year, an emotional Thunberg accused members of ignoring the science behind the climate crisis, saying, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth—how dare you!”

 

Some continue to call the climate crisis a “hoax.” But the science is overwhelmingly compelling.

A 2018 report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program says a 100% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 must be achieved to avoid irreversible climate disaster. Melting icecaps are causing water levels to rise across the planet. Longer and harder droughts are being experienced, as are more frequent and violent forest and brush fires. Heat waves are one of the most common causes of death from natural disasters, in spite of climate change-induced stronger hurricanes, tornadoes, snowfall, hail storms and sandstorms. My husband and I recently installed a residential solar power system on the roof of our home, a simple and obvious way individuals and businesses can combat the ruination of the planet. But “climate deniers” continue to turn a blind eye to what humans are doing to cause these problems and what we must do to turn things around before it’s too late.

 

The Bible says God will reckon with those who destroy the earth because of selfish interest and refusal to believe the situation is critical (Revelations 11). Abusing the earth to make a profit, as Greta Thunberg has charged, is not the solution. We must care for and about each other, and for the great God-given blessings the earth has bestowed upon us.

 

Lord, You have warned us that Your wrath will come for those destroying the earth (Revelations 11:18). Let us be counted as those who honor Your great gift of life and our beautiful place to live. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

 

THE BATTLE STILL RAGES

Traumatized SoldierHave I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

 

When I was a child, my family visited my mother’s brother Norvel and his wife Mabel. Norvel had been an American soldier in Germany during World War I. During trench combat, he was one of many soldiers exposed to “mustard gas,” a toxic chemical used liberally by all the “antagonistic” nations during that way, including Germany. Although the use of chemicals in warfare had been banned worldwide in 1899 and 1907, the practice killed and wounded 1.3 million allied soldiers during World War I. Besides coping with lung problems, Norvel also experienced “shell shock”—now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—from the psychological wounds of war. Aunt Mabel scolded her husband when he tried to talk to us about what happened to him. “We don’t talk about the war,” she said.

 

Fortunately for our veterans, nations throughout the world have come a long way in the understanding of and treatment for both medical and psychological combat experiences. The symptoms haven’t changed: my Uncle Norvel and many other veterans past and present carry the scars of war with them every day. It is commonly accepted today that the path to recovery from trauma is to talk about one’s feelings, sometimes—but not always—recounting the exact atrocities that occurred. How sad for my uncle and countless others past and present who have not been allowed or felt comfortable speaking about the unspeakable.

 

It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is fear that has said its prayers. The Old Testament recounts many tales of fierce battles fought by the people of God. They were never promised that the battles would be easy, but they were given Someone to turn to when the situation seemed unbearable. As long as flawed human beings live at odds with each other in this world, there will be conflict. But God promises to be with us through any battles we face. He will uphold us with His righteous hand. The victory belongs to the Lord.

 

Heavenly Father, on this and all Veteran’s Day, stir us to give thanks for the brave men and women who fight to preserve freedom and justice in this world. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST LEAVE?

The Battered DoorHusbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that she may be holy and without blemish….husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25, 27-28

 

A friend’s Facebook post reminded me of my long-ago job as a county social worker helping victims of domestic violence. Rarely did one of these victims—mostly women—leave her partner; rarer still did she have money to hire an attorney. I often accompanied the woman to court, to face her batterer and his attorney. I was an advocate, not a legal representative, and I was raked over the coals in those courtrooms. One of the most frequent questions asked by the man’s attorney was, “If it was so bad, why didn’t she leave a long time ago?” The complex answer to that question was the subject of my friend’s Facebook post, written by a woman named Rachel Smith:

 

Because he has her so brainwashed that it’s all her fault…she’s no good to anyone…no one will want her or love her…there’s no way she can possibly make it on her own. She thinks that if she just tries harder…if she’s a better wife and a better mom maybe he will be happy with her and wouldn’t get so angry. And maybe he will be the same sweet, charming man that he was when they first met. He has her convinced that if she leaves, he will hurt or kill her or her family. He has threatened to tell the judge she is a bad mom and she will lose her kids and never see them again. He has taken away her money and convinced her that she cannot make it on her own financially and she will always need him.

 

More people are concerned with why women stay in abusive relationships than why men are abusing women. Unless you’ve been in an abusive relationship people have no idea how hard it is to escape. Abusers fool those outside the home because they usually only abuse those inside the home.

They need your support. They need your love. They do not need your judgement.

 

Jesus, You said husbands and wives are to be subject to one another out of reverence to You. Help us end domestic violence throughout the world. Amen

 

OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THESE VICTIMS DID NOT ASK TO BE ABUSED. REMEMBER TOO THAT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A FAMILY DISEASE AND A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM IN OUR NATION AND IN OUR WORLD.

MY ROAD TO DAMASCUS

Paul on the Road to DamascusI regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

 

The Apostle Paul could have been ashamed of the life he led before he met Christ. After Jesus’ miraculous deeds on earth, Paul stood on the sidelines and watched Jerusalem’s religious authorities stone Stephen, an avid follower of Christ (Acts 7:58). As a devout Jew, Paul believed Jesus was a fraud. He made it his mission to eradicate as many followers of Jesus’ way as he could. Acts 9:1 finds Paul “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” But Jesus surprised him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9) and Paul was never the same. At first, many of Christ’s followers rejected Paul, not believing that he had indeed been converted. Eventually, Paul was able to convince other followers of Christ’s way of his own conversion, and he became one of the fiercest advocates for the advance of the early church. He travelled extensively, and eventually told the citizens of Philippi, “For (Christ’s) sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

 

Because of the dramatic way in which I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I have often compared myself to Paul. While I could never have been accused of “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” in my former life, I was quite jaded about the very existence of God. I grew up in a time when women were becoming “liberated,” and for me that meant no one was in charge of me! I had developed an attitude that I was the captain of my life, and whatever I chose to say, do or think was perfectly fine. The only problem was that I was never happy in that state of mind. When God literally sent a bolt of lightning down onto my “road to Damascus,” In love and mercy, God pursued me relentlessly until I finally reached the end of my very dismal existence and laid down my life for Him. I can say with Paul that my former life was “rubbish” compared to the joy and peace I now have every day, thanks to my living Lord.

 

Praise You, Lord, for redeeming me as Your child! Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

UNFORGIVING SOIL

UNFORGIVING SOILOther seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. Mark 4:8

 

It is nearly impossible to get anything to grow where we live. I have actually broken hand tools in the clay soil in our yard. My passion for gardening is fueled by the short growing season here in Minnesota, and my soul is fed and healed by the warmth of the sun and by getting plants to cooperate and grow! But the soil in our area must be reckoned with if it’s going to produce. It is mandatory that compost and other organic matter be mixed into this unforgiving, pasty, mucky clay before any sort of evolution occurs. And when left alone, it seems the clay continually wins out. More good stuff must be added to bring that dirt back into compliance. God does allow beautiful plants to flourish in our terrible soil, but only if I tend it carefully and patiently.

 

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught the people about a farmer who went out and scattered some seed. As He explained later to the disciples, He wasn’t really talking about planting seed, but about spreading God’s Word. “Some people are like the seed along the path,” Jesus said, “…Satan comes and takes the Word away” because it never takes root (Mark 4:13). People whose hearts are like “rocky ground” don’t develop a deep enough faith to develop deep roots and they fall away (vs. 16-17). Thorns are like “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things (that) come in and choke the Word” (v. 19). But “seed sown on good soil” will be heard, accepted, and produce an abundant crop (v. 20).

 

I can look to my gardening experiences and note that not all soil is “good” without some diligent, patient, and appropriate work. In my spiritual life, as in gardening, I cannot just sit by and expect my faith to flourish. Through the years, I have continually studied God’s Word, soaking up each phrase and verse and doing my best to apply it to the way I live. In good times and bad, I must keep “feeding” the soil of my faith to make it grow.

 

Great God, thank You for tending the soil of my heart through Your mighty Word. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH

Light in the DarknessBut for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Malachi 4:2

 

Army Surgeon Rhonda Cornum’s helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. Her injuries were many but not life-threatening. She was captured by Iraqi soldiers, a situation which checked all the boxes for post-traumatic stress: a mock-execution, near death experience, sexual assault, helplessness in the face of the enemy. But Cornum refused to succumb to the terror by immediately beginning to focus on how she could improve her life when she survived. Cornum says resilience is like a muscle: it strengthens when exercised and atrophies when neglected. She was released by her captors within a week and eventually directed the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. Today, every Army soldier goes through resilience training; psychologists believe the training can help individuals in all walks of life to survive and thrive following any type of trauma.

 

Two researchers, Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, coined the phrase “post-traumatic growth.” After working with survivors of cancer, severe injury, war, and other traumas, the men identified growth in five main areas: personal strength, relationships, life perspective, appreciation of circumstances (thankfulness), and spirituality. As a survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint with a clear threat that I might not live, I concur with Tedeschi and Calhoun: I became a stronger person because I had seen myself at my most vulnerable. For me, God’s gracious love and healing meant a brand new start for me. I did not “deserve” to be assaulted nor to be threatened with imminent death; the perpetrator was a monster by all accounts. But when I survived, I had a clear choice: to succumb to the fear and panic rising in my mind, or to move forward with my life and heal. I chose God’s healing.

 

I have talked to many whose trauma has left them in a precarious place, but I believe there is much hope in studies like the one on “post-traumatic growth.” Skilled therapists using these sensible techniques can guide trauma survivors into optimism, hope, and resilience to help them live productive and meaningful lives.

 

God of Grace and Healing, touch the broken places in survivors of trauma and lead them to trust in Your loving goodness. Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

JUSTICE

JusticeHe will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. Matthew 12:20

 

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. This week the billionaire American financier, indicted on numerous charges for running an international child sex trafficking ring, was found dead in his jail cell by apparent suicide. His victims thought this was their last best hope of obtaining justice for his kidnapping, rape, and “sale” of possibly hundreds of underaged girls.  Now, his co-conspirators (some female) and other men named in the court proceedings are shouting for joy, believing Epstein’s death will give them a pass from a similar fate to his. His victims may try to bring civil charges, but it won’t be quite the same without the monster in the courtroom, facing his victims.

 

What is to be said of justice that never comes? Of peace of mind that is ripped from the survivors’ hands and hearts? Of a real sense of closure lost to the winds of fate? Our indwelling sense of right and wrong says offenders should be punished and victims protected. Deuteronomy 3:4 says The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He. His justice is compared to a plumb line, ever straight, never faltering (Isaiah 28:17).

 

There is no perversion of justice with the Lord our God (2 Chronicles 19:7). But human actions are never as “straight” and pure as God’s plumb line. Somewhere, in this broken world, survivors of trauma induced at the hands of others must come to grips with the fact that justice is not always assured, peace is not always promised. We are left to figure out what justice might look like, in the absence of perfect law, perfect courts, perfect circumstances. As a survivor of sexual violence never brought to justice, I have learned a hard lesson, but a good one: sometimes justice is just knowing that God believes us, feels our pain, collects our tears in a bottle, and tells us, “Keep going, My child, you are precious in My sight and for that reason alone, you must keep going.”

 

God of Justice, hold close to You those who never see justice in this world. Help them know Your justice prevails in the end. Amen