'I had a minor procedure, and ended up in a wheelchair for 25 years'
Meridyth’s story | Understanding the Father heart of God
“I grew up with my mother and one half-brother. My mother never told me who my father was. She said, “You don’t need to know.”
I thought to myself, If I don’t have an earthly father, how am I going to do this? We lived with my grandparents, who were both paralysed from strokes, so we took turns in caring for them. It was quite challenging at age 13.
I vividly recall walking into their room one day and finding my grandfather dead. A few years later my grandmother died in hospital.
“How could a holy God love me when nobody else could?” – Meridyth
That year I had so many questions about life. I went on a Christian camp where the speaker talked about ‘the Father heart of God’. He said, “If you want a Father who will always be there for you, always listen to you, always confront you (and rebuke you) and always love you with a love that will never end, then you do have that – a perfect, heavenly Father.”
I made a commitment to God that day. I was 15.
From then on I had a yearning to know my heavenly Father more and more. How could a holy God love me when nobody else could? It started with me reading the Gospels, wanting to know about Jesus. What was Jesus like? How did Jesus react when things went badly? What did Jesus say to people when he was challenged and accused, and then when he was dying? I read all of Jesus’ words in red. The more I read them, the more I wanted to be like Jesus, and the more I wanted to reflect Jesus. I wanted to have the mind of Christ.
“All the information and qualifications meant nothing without the Father heart of God.”
It’s been a long journey. When I was 43, I went into hospital for a minor procedure, and I ended up in a wheelchair for 25 years.
I was a single mum with two kids at the time. How was I going to manage? I ended up going to university and getting five degrees, but all the information and qualifications meant nothing without the Father heart of God. Every day I needed to know how to love him more.
“I ask them if they want to explore faith. They often do!”
Some years before that, I started visiting the local café near our supermarket. Every day I’d pray, “Lord, take me to someone who needs to hear of you today.” Then I’d look for someone sitting alone, looking like they wanted to talk. I never disturbed anyone who was reading or busy.
You would be amazed at the conversations I’ve had! It’s been going on for 50 years now. I ask people if they want to share a cuppa. They look at me, with my mask on and my CPAP machine, hardly breathing. But they invite me to sit down, and we start talking. After a while, I ask them if they ever had a faith. Then I ask them if they want to explore faith. They often do!
Afterwards I give people my number, and they can ring me if they want to. They just want to be listened to. Sometimes they say, “The God you serve is not someone I’ve ever heard of before.”
“I find that the harder life is, the more I’m thrown back to know the mind of Christ.”
It’s been glorious. I’m 73 now. Currently, my larynx closes to 99% without warning, so I have a permanent CPAP machine, and I’m having a tracheotomy this month. I won’t be able to speak, so I’ll have to find new ways of sharing God’s love at the cafes. It will be a new creative challenge! We don’t always need a mouth to show the love of God!
I find that the harder life is, the more I’m thrown back to know the mind of Christ. There is always more to learn! I am imperfect, but I’m perfectly loved! For me, it’s about fostering that love relationship with God every day. It’s just so amazing the way God ministers to us! And if we have the answers in Jesus, how can we not share them?”
Meridyth’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click to read more Faith Stories.