THE GOD OF ALL SEASONS

judy50Life is a combination of things. It has the best of times, it has the worst of times; moments of wisdom and of foolishness; seasons of light and of darkness; it springs with hope, sometimes descends in the winter of despair. Life is like a coin, sometimes you have heads, sometimes tails. Life rises and falls, it winds and meanders.

The book of Ecclesiastes contains the thoughts of “the philosopher”, a man who reflected deeply on how short and contradictory human life is, with its mysterious injustices and frustrations, and concluded that “life is useless”. He could not understand the ways of God, who controls human destiny. Yet, in spite of this, he advised people to work hard, and to enjoy the gifts of God as much and as long as they could. Many of the philosopher’s thoughts appear negative and even depressing. But the fact that this book is in the bible shows that biblical faith is broad enough to take into account such pessimism and doubt. Many have taken comfort in seeing themselves in the mirror of Ecclesiastes, and have discovered that the same bible which reflects these thoughts also offers the hope in God that gives life its greater meaning.

In the third chapter of the book, the author says that God chooses time and season for everything. “He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing………”

Allow me friends, to share with you two of these seasons, which is my central focus:

a) The season of light

When things are good you are all smiles. It is when you have graduated with honors; you proposed and she said “yes”! You win that business deal; you get the promotion that you’ve been waiting for; you have a great weeding. You have healthy relationships; or God answers your prayers before you finish speaking! This is the season of light. You are on the top of the world! In the bible, Paul was in this season when he led a governor to the lord(Acts 13:12), as well as winning many souls to the kingdom of God. For Peter, when he confessed Jesus as the son of God. Esther, when she became a queen. Job, when he had all the wealth. Jesus, when he was transfigured before his disciples.

b) The dark season

But when Paul was put into prison was heart-broken. After Peter denied Jesus three times, he was depressed. When Jesus found the disciples sleeping in His hour of distress, he was grieved; Esther, was distressed when she learned about Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews. Job, when he lost all his children and property and was afflicted with a repulsive disease. When you cannot trace God in your life for long seasons and your faith begins to falter, that is your dark season.

You lose your job, your spouse or your health. You struggle in your ministry. Your friends walk out of your life, you struggle to pay rent-living from hand to mouth. You are diagonized with a terminal disease and everything seems bleak and black. You find yourself sinking into darkness, into times of doubt and pessimism. You feel that things are out of the natural order as fear consumes your faith. You face constant opposition from family, friends, colleagues-even Satan seems to have no other business on earth except to make you utterly wretched! You hear devils more than you hear the Holy Spirit. You cry all night and really wonder if God cares or exists. You find yourself in the very edge of giving up! Suicidal thoughts and feelings often cross over your mind.

Dark season is usually brought on by our own actions or sins for which God chastises us, or a season of TESTING that God allows to mold us and mature our faith. The bible repeatedly encourages us to embrace the dark season cheerfully. ……..be glad that you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may be full of joy when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13). When you are a christian, trials have a totally different meaning.We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and His approval creates hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

The beauty of the dark season

As Paul says, trials work for us a weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). You might be having the season of light now but don’t notice that it makes you less prayerful, less loving, lack of commitment to the things of God, and careless with salvation. But in the dark season, you are constantly on your knees; fasting and praying. You have your weapons drawn, not sheathed. You long to know God more. You desire a stronger and deeper relationship with God. You are desperate for the King of kings and Lord of lords! You very easily recognize and relate with those who are in similar states to yours. And you are very humble, teachable and easily corrected. God molds you into the person that He called you to be. Amen!

LET GO, AND LET GOD.

What is the source of strive in your life? Have you monitored your heart for your motives? Have you checked your life for a wrong turn or a poor choice? Are you tired or ill? If you’ve ruled out these possibilities , then, the enemy in the battle is likely Satan himself.

Neil Anderson, in “The steps to freedom in Christ”, asks a small question that captures thoughts contrary to what you think or believe? “Satan is not very creative. He uses the same old lines year after year, person after person, whispering things like, “You’re stupid. You’ll never get it right. You are ugly. You’re worthless. You are not talented. You’ll never make it. You……you……..you……”  He(Satan) knows he is totally defeated if you shift your perspective off yourself and on to God. James 4:7 says, ”…..submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you…….”

Thomas Edison once said, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Finding the silver lining isn’t hard for God. In fact, He promises to create silver linings out of nothing! Romans 8:28 and 31 say it best, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose………what , then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us who can be against us?”

God is the master of taking dark and turning it into light; taking bad and bending it into good; taking seeming misfortune and making it into fortunate opportunity. Writer Chuck Swindoll says that  “we are all faced with a series of great opportunities that are often brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

When I am faced by a difficult situation, sometimes I make myself set my tears and feelings aside for a moment. Walk myself straight into God’s throne room and take a good hard look at His character. God is good, all-knowing, all powerful, amazing, loving. omnipresent. God sees everything and so on. One of my favorite quotes is, “when we walk to the edge of all the light we have and step out into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that there will be something solid to stand on or that we will be taught how to fly?” I wonder how high we could sour, if we would only choose to let go of our situations and let God!

Maybe your relationship is on the rocks. It could be that your significant other has betrayed you; one to whom you opened your heart to; or a terminal illness, probably, cancer or AIDS which has robbed you of your joy. Stop crying and pity partying. Run to God NOW and let Him hide you under the shadow of His wings. Because that is where you’ll find rest. He is a God who provide sanity in insane situations, and gives peace in the hospital beds and along the gravesides. Sometimes, all we need to do is to leave our pain and disappointment at the feet of Christ and allow His calming presence(peace) cover us. Let go of the pain, break-up etc and let God. He will fight for you. It is by loving Jesus, copying Him, depending upon Him, that you are to be transformed into His likeness.

Angels are listening to hear what kind of report you are bearing to the world about your heavenly Master. Let your conversation be of Him who lives to make intercession for you before the Father. When you take the hand of a friend, let praise to God be on your lips and in your heart. This will attract his thoughts to Jesus.

All have trials; griefs hard to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer. Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. It is often said that Jesus wept, but that He was never known to smile. Our Savior was indeed a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, for He opened His heart to all the woes of men. But though His life was self-denying and shadowed with pain and care, His spirit was not crushed. His countenance did not wear an expression of grief and repining, but ever one of peaceful serenity. His heart was a wellspring of life, and whatever He went He carried REST, PEACE, JOY and GLADNESS. Amen! Our Savior was deeply serious and intensely in earnest, but never gloomy or morose. The life of those who imitate Him will be full of earnest purpose. Jesus, gives peace like a river.

God longs to rescue us out of our trouble-even if we brought the calamity on by our own actions and decisions.He has the ability to restore us and redeem us if we own up to our sin and we ask for mercy. When we leave our bargaining chips out of the deal and come to Him, ready to leave our rebellious ways behind and seek His righteousness, We will find that God is full of mercy. ” His sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Are you disappointed in the person you see in the mirror each morning? When people bring up conversations of standards, integrity, self esteem, success and accountability; are you squeamish, afraid of being ‘found out?’ Are you basically a good person, but one who has made some poor choices, lapsed your judgement and are now waiting for the other shoe to drop? Don’t wait for the other shoe to drop- run to God NOW and confess it all to Jesus. Let go of your past and let God! His mercy is freeing, His grace restoring. His death on the cross is your door of hope.

A LOVE LETTER FROM MY FATHER.

65250_10151533596752355_2124386640_nDear my beloved daughter,

I don’t care what anyone says, how you feel about yourself, or how far you are from the popular ideal……..I LOVE YOU. No ‘ifs’, meaning no conditions. No ‘buts’, meaning no considerations. Just an appreciation for who you are, just a desire to show my affection. Just an announcement that you have already arrested my attention.

In a world that says, “I love you” today, then forgets what it means tomorrow, I want you to know that my love will be patient and kind, will not boast, will not be proud, nor be rude, nor seek my own benefit, nor be easily angered, nor keep a record of wrongs. You will shine as my love illuminates the dark areas of your life.

In a world that says, “I promise”, then goes and breaks their honor. I want you to know that my love will not fail you. You can depend on me – but you need to wait for me, in other words, trust.

In a world that says, “I believe in you”, then betrays you to believe in other promises, other reports and other fears..my love will keep you safe-even from yourself. I will always give you another chance. I will always hope for the best. I will never give up.

You’re afraid because you are from that broken world of cheap love, unkept  promises and betrayed trust. You are afraid my love will fail you, and you don’t want to get hurt once more. You’re most afraid because you know that you are not just from that world. You were once of that world. You have loved cheap things, given your heart to attractions of no value. You have broken your promises, leaving a trial of failed expectations. You have stopped believing that TRUE LOVE exists for you. You have started to doubt. You are afraid that you don’t deserve my love.

My love will not fail you. In my love are the privileges of the beloved. Because I love you, you are most beautiful. Because I love you, you are most special. Because I love you, you are most talented. Because I love you, you can depend on me. Because I love you, you are irreplaceable. Because I love you, I will NEVER let you go.

Because I love you, I will not force myself on you. You are free, even free to not choose me.

And yet, my love will not condemn you. It is freely given and freely kept. You did not earn it and cannot un-earn it. It is a gift. You captivated me at your worst, so surely I will stay to enjoy the sunrise you bring.

In your freedom, do not be proud. In your fear, do not run away. In your guilt, do not hide. In your pain, do not harden your heart. Instead, GIVE ME THE PIECES OF YOUR BROKEN HEART, let me keep it safe for you.

And here, take mine, it’s yours if you’ll have it.

“Why” you ask?

Because you are my beloved daughter. This is who you are.

Yours in Love,

Heavenly dad.

LADIES, GUARD YOUR HEARTS

Remember the words: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” What is their pattern? The way they think, the things they do, the way they live, and their reasons and motivations. They think they choose for themselves, yet they are so easily swayed by opinion. They think they do what’s right, yet they are so fearful and insecure. They think they are living the life, yet they’re never fulfilled, never content. Their reasons and motivations are empty; they are always wondering why they are not happy and missing the gifts God has already bestowed.

You are not like these people. Do not walk in their ways.

The bible says, “There is a way that seems right in the eyes of man but it leads to destruction.” I believe that is not your portion in Jesus’ name! Instead, surround yourself with people who will lead you to God, who will encourage you to be disciplined and encourage you to abstain from sexual immorality. Who will believe in faith with you, and help you fight for the things you value. Develop your ability to discern past your feelings. Use your sensitivity  to sense when something is wrong and wait on God. When you hear, trust that it is God speaking to you and run to Him. Use that same sensitivity to sense when something is right.

Stay humble. Keep learning. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Most of all, trust in God. You are His daughter. This is who you are.

Woman of God, guard your heart from the ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’ of this world. These are the people , most of the time men, but many women as well, who do not have right standards. They value the filing of their desires and their personal comfort and entertainment over you. Their sole interest  is to use and leave you emotionally and physically drained. These people can be smart, good-looking, opinionated, confident, nice, educated, popular and even friendly, but they will only tear you apart because of their selfish agendas. If you come across such people, run for your dear life, daughter of God!

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon writes, “Do not awaken love until it pleases.” ABSTINENCE will protect you from both mental and emotional pain. Sisters, let us take this piece seriously. When you give in to a guy, soon or later he won’t be that much into you, drop you and leave you hanging because there is this thing about guys that they don’t respect what they get easily.

Paul in his letter to Corinthians said, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Your body is the Holy Spirit’s temple, therefore, we should not grieve Him by indulging into the acts of sexual activities outside of marriage. Instead, we should honor Him(Holy Spirit) by pursuing purity till marriage.

In the same way, do not ever settle for a man who will not lay his life down for you daily, just as Jesus laid his life down for us on the cross. Don’t be blinded by the world; don’t think with your heart, but mind. Not all that glitters is gold!

PRAYER THAT MAKES GOD CHANGE HIS MIND.

jones3I call this prayer the kind that runs on blood, sweat and tears. It touches the heart of God and makes Him even change His mind. There were some individuals in the bible who understood this matter than others. At this point, lets examine how they fared in their own circumstances.

1.King Hezekiah prayed.

This is one of the most intriguing stories in the bible. King Hezekiah was sick and near death. The Lord sent the greatest prophet of his day, Isaiah, to him with a message confirming the worst- Hezekiah was going to die. That in itself is no news. God has been issuing death sentences on people in Scripture from time to time. However, in this particular case, something different happened. Instead of Hezekiah accepting the death sentence like most folks would, he decided to take action. The bible says: “Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” Isaiah 38:2-3, “ And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, ” Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘ Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.” (38:4-5). What! This man prayed and God changed His mind? According to the bible, the prayer was answered so fast that Isaiah the prophet was still in the premises when God ordered him back to deliver the counter-message to the previous one!

Our brother Hezekiah obviously knew something about God that most modern Christians have been slow to learn and that is, nothing happens without God first taking the prayers of His people into account. Praise the Lord!  Now, lets move on to an interesting location:

2.City of Nineveh prays.

Another wicked city! Another time. Like wicked Sodom, God had taken a decision to destroy it. Like Sodom He couldn’t do it without telling His servant, this time the prophet Jonah. He sent one of the most accomplished and successful prophets in scripture to warn this city of the impending disaster should they refuse to repent.

His message got through immediately and the entire city repented. God knows how to choose the right man for the job. Yet, all you ever hear of is how Jonah tried to run away from doing God’s work. Yes, but he eventually repented, and maybe that’s why he was able to deliver such a message that everyone was convicted in their hearts to repent.

That may also give us a powerful clue into why most folks hear the gospel today and are not moved to turn away from their sins at all. Maybe those delivering the message have not repented themselves! You can’t give to others what you don’t have yourself. It is time we begin to give Jonah’s ministry it’s due respect. The Lord Jesus Christ once compared Himself to Jonah, and that just goes to show you that heaven does not see things quite the same way we see them here on earth!

Back to Nineveh. By the time Jonah began to preach his message, the people of Nineveh, unlike Sodom, paid close attention. Here’s what they did: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and CRY MIGHTILY TO GOD.; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” Jonah 3:5-10. Wow!

Talk about repentance! Everyone was involved. Even pets, farm animals and vehicular animals were involved. That means public transportation came to a standstill. Nobles and peasants had to participate in the national fasting and prayer. Even the president fasted. It got front-page treatment in the news media of those days. The prophet that brought the message had repented. The king followed suit and repented. Citizens repented, even animals repented! So, how did God respond? – Even God repented! See (Jonah 3:10). Prayers that make God  change His mind; of blood, sweat and tears.

3. Queen Esther prays.

If you have stubborn enemies that are not just after you but your loved ones as well as your finances. You would do well to pay close attention to this. Here, you will discover a very powerful key that is guaranteed to break the backbone of any problem, if you can apply it correctly, under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Here is the background of the story. An evil decree has just been issued to wipe out an entire race. This was such a strong decree that it could not be reversed ever, not by constitutional means, not by any means. There was no hiding place. It was programmed to take effect simultaneously in all parts of the kingdom, the superpower nation of those days. But they had reckoned with Esther, the beautiful orphan girl who became queen by winning a beauty contest. Esther needed favor from the king and fast. But the rules were so strict that she couldn’t just stroll in and ask the king. Queen or no queen, that meant certain death. She had to do it some other way And she needed to quickly mobilize her people to join her. And so we read Esther’s instructions:

” Go gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I  will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16)

See the extreme approach she used? Unusual situations require unusual methods. Notice that she did not exempt herself from this program. Esther not only secured favor and the permission to counter the evil decree against her and her people through this tried and tested weapon of corporate ‘dry fasting’, they also brought down judgement upon the strongman behind their problems.

Esther and her people had to rise up and enforce a counter decree in order to save themselves from a carefully laid satanic trap, and they succeeded.

In the Garden of Gethsemane on passion night, Jesus prayed till sweat came pouring down his body like blood. The bible says it was like great drops of blood. He secured victory for us! PRAISE GOD! He also set an example on how to approach difficult situations in our lives- through the prayer of blood, sweat and tears.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WAIT ON GOD?

JUDY5There is a saying, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” In other words, a positive attitude can help you achieve great things and go far in life. Waiting on God has got something to do with optimism – the tendency to believe, expect or hope that things will turn out well. Les Brown said, “When life knocks you down, try to land on your back, because if you look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up.” Optimists see their glass as half full rather than half empty. They feel good about themselves, and tend to have better moods. Realistic optimists have their feet on the ground and know how to deal with disappointments and setbacks. They are generally more persevering in their goals and activities because they have the confidence, commitment and motivation to overcome challenges. They are realistic about the risks involved in any decision and know when to persevere or give up and move on.

Research shows that people who express positive emotions come down with fewer colds and flu after being exposed to viruses than those who express negative emotions like anger, sadness or stress. The results of numerous studies of patients with life-threatening diseases, such as AIDS, suggest that those who remain optimistic show symptoms later and survive longer than patients who do not.

Waiting on God means to look for the bright side of things, seeing the silver lining in every cloud and focusing on what’s right rather than whats wrong. It takes faith!

God is a God of order. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” ( 1 Corinthians 14:33). I have usually found that in the hurry of rapid-fire decision making, I can easily fall into an integrity lapse just because I haven’t taken time to think things through and hear God’s voice concerning my situation.

Too often, we think we need to run ahead of God, help Him out and fix a situation that seems to be in limbo. In the book of Genesis, we read that Abraham and his wife Sarah tried to do just that. They had no children, which was considered the ultimate failure in their culture. Neither of them was getting any younger, so they decided to take things into their own hands, instead of waiting on God to bless them with an heir. Abraham did the unbelievable; slept with Sarah’s maid, and a son, Ishmael was born out of that liaison. Shortly afterwards, Sarah found out she was pregnant, and she too bore a son, Isaac. The conflict between these two sons has been passed down from generation to generation. Why? – Quick fix solutions!

While it is important to be decisive, I have learned to slow down and weigh the consequences of my decision. If there is a check in my spirit, I need to investigate why it is there. If I am simply fearful about the situation, God will encourage my heart, but if I still have a deep sense of dread, I make it a priority to slow down and consider what is right.

I have realized that the more in tune I am with God, the more I communicate with Him. And as I immerse myself into His Word and in prayer, a transformation begins to take place. I begin to discern His voice more clearly, and God communicates to me the purpose He has for my life. You may ask me, ” but sometimes we cannot hear God speaking to us?” I believe Dallas Willard, in his book “Hearing God” , captures the true problem people face when they feel they are not hearing from God. “Perhaps we do not hear the voice of God because we do not expect it. Then again, perhaps we do not expect it because we know that we fully intend to run our lives on our own and have never seriously considered anything else.” God will not compete for our attention. God will not run over us. We must be open to the possibility of God’s addressing us in whatever way He chooses or else we might walk past a burning bush instead of saying as Moses did, ‘ I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up!’ (Exodus 3:3)

As we grow in faith, God enables us to discern His voice more clearly. And when we cry out with a desire to live a life reflecting His character and calling, He answers. The book of Proverbs explains, ” If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find  the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:3-6)

God clearly wants to communicate with you about His plan for your life. We are not required to manufacture our own purposes. We are simply called to listen to the calling of God. Life is intimidating, and opportunities, even positive ones can seem daunting, gigantic and insurmountable. We all need to face down the fears of life. And the courage to pursue our dreams and face down these fears is often directly linked to whether or not we believe God is trustworthy. But how can we know God is for real? How can we know He will keep His promises written in the bible? How can we wait on God hoping that He will come through for us?

I like to go back to the book of Genesis 15, where God promises to make Abraham’s offspring as many as the stars and to give him a homeland. But Abraham, like all of us, wanted reassurance that God’s promises would come true. So God makes a covenant with Abraham. In biblical times, if someone wanted to make a covenant with another individual, they would cut animals in two and place the halves opposite each other. Then they would link their arms together and walk through the blood of the animals. It was their way of saying, “If I break my part of the bargain, you can do to me what we’ve done to these animals.” A covenant was not to be taken lightly. You couldn’t just hire some high-power lawyer, find a loophole and get out of it. It was a life and death commitment.

Back to my story; the covenant between God and Abraham was a little different, though. God knew Abraham was a fallible human being, incapable of keeping his part of the bargain forever. So God put Abraham to sleep and walked through the animals in the form of a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch. (Exodus 15:17). God made a covenant with Himself. This means that if God fails to keep His promise, He will cease to exist. But we know God is eternal; He will always exist (Revelation 4:8). Therefore, we can conclude that since God will NEVER die, He will ALWAYS keep His promises.

” Then the Lord asked Abraham, ” why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘ Can I really have a child when I am so old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? As I said, nine months from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:13)

” God has brought me joy and laughter. Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me…..”. “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:6-7). WOW!

Is there anything too hard for God? Absolutely nothing. I like the lyrics to this song:

“If He did yesterday..

He will do it today oh….

If He does it today oh…….

He will do it tomorrow……

Alitenda jana………

Atatenda leo…

Akitenda leo…..

Atatenda kesho……..” AMEN!

All my courage in life comes because I recognize God will never fail to keep His promises if we patiently wait on Him. He will surely come through for us, just on time! Praise God.

TENACITY IS CALLING OUT

JUDY8I describe tenacity as the ability to hold onto God and allow Him to carry you through. Like Peter, who walked on water in the middle of the storm, we can keep walking as long as we keep our eyes on God. The minute we rely on our own strength to see us through, however, we begin to sink.

When we go through rough times in life, God doesn’t stand idly by. He is willing, ready and able to intercede to accomplish His will, His perfect will. He has the power to win over anything, anyone at anytime. At times, it may seem that He has abandoned us, but as the saying goes, we can’t see all the pieces of God’s puzzle. We lack information, perspective and most of all, patience. But when we go to His Word and study His character, we find that God has carefully woven many pictures of Himself into the text. So we can gain a better view of Who He is and how He works.

I have discovered many of these pictures. Last week, I was thinking about some of them, such as swords and shields. During biblical times, shields were three-sided, as tall as a man and covered with leather and metal. Learning this, I have gained a fuller understanding of what the Psalmist meant when he said that God was his shield. I am comforted by the fact that the only way to get hurt in battle is to step out from behind the shield, or run in retreat. I have also realized that because God is my shield, everything that comes to me in life must first go through Him(God). AMEN!

I have also discovered that God is my rock, a high place upon which a fortified city is built. He is my fortress, a walled-in city. He is also my bulwark, which is a round tower, that sits each corner of the fortress where the soldiers would run to gain perspective on attacking enemies. Now, those are some word pictures I can depend on! God wants to be my high place of refuge, a place in which I can run and be safe and still have my basic needs met. He will protect me in times of battle; when storms are raging and I can run to Him to gain perspective on the people and things attacking my life.

When I am tempted to give up in an area of life, to throw in the towel or pull up short, I review the character of God and the names of God, like those revealed in the Old Testament. My favorite name of God is Jehovah Jireh, meaning, “the one who provides.” When things get tough, this name reminds me that God is my provision, and I need to choose to please Him first. Another name of God is Jehovah Shalom, which means, ” the Lord our peace.” He gives peace along the graveyards and in the hospital beds; peace that brings sanity in insane situations. Peace that is solid when it feels like you’ve just stepped into the quicksand. Yeah, that calming presence in the midst of the storm….

During really intense times, I will ask God to go before me, to pave the way on my behalf. I would make choices based upon what will guard my integrity before God, regardless of popular opinion. I would also rely on God’s strength….I remind myself that God does not set me up for failure. My failures are just footsteps into the future that God has for me. I also call to mind 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ” We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Pressed in  means-the walls are closing in. But God says we won’t be crushed. Think about it…….God stands between me and that thing that is threatening my world. Instead of worrying and fuming, instead of taking my feelings out on someone else, I review God’s amazing traits. Sometimes out loud-because I need to hear them! God is awesome, beautiful Savior, Abba Father, Mighty, Defender, Deliverer, Strong tower, Shield, Counselor  Healer, Lover of my soul……..

Do you have a plan to handle bad days? If I have a series of strenuous, unpleasant days ahead, I begin with prayer and ask God to pull me through rough days. I also reward for  myself for getting through tough times with favorable tasks like calling up my sister, a friend or going to relax in an inspirational place. Knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel gives me the tenacity to pull through and keeps me from spiraling down into a long-term depression.

You can also create your own crisis plan for handling the blues-one that builds into your life and helps you deepen your walk with God. I build mental pictures of God into my mind by purchasing a musical CD or cassette that highlights praise music; words of Scripture set to music. When I’m having one of those days, I close my eyes, put on my headset and let His presence wash over me. I always have a piece of art for my house that helps me remember my favorite attribute of God. You can place something small in your wallet or briefcase that will remind you of an attribute of God that gives you strength – I usually carry a small stone in my handbag to remind me that God is my rock.

If you have many “blue days” strung together, professional help may be the best plan.