Lifestyle

FAITHFUL LIVING: Climb in your relationship with God

When I first became aware of the fact that there are some great questions to ponder I was a young teenager, engaged in such youthful activities as building 6-foot long banana splits and biking down the California coast. I was also an active member of a youth group that met at a local church.

It was there that I met Darryl Johnson, a brilliant thinker and youth pastor who introduced to me two great truths. The first? There is much to learn about the character of God. In fact, Darryl told me I would spend a lifetime searching to know more. And the second? God would reveal Himself, not only through the life of Christ, historical events, and my contemporary life, but also through the Bible—which at first glance looked to be a boring and tedious set of histories and rules.

Darryl promised me something different, however. He said that if I lifted my Bible off the shelf in my bedroom and opened it daily, God would actively reveal Himself and I would come to understand that scripture is a living document. Through ancient words God would give me strength, challenge my current stream of thoughts, and give me hope when my heart felt mortally wounded. Ancient words would begin the process of binding my heart with His. We would connect through prayer and a surprisingly personal relationship would develop.

Monday of this week, while reading Proverbs 18:10 in my Bible before going to bed, God reminded me that He is a tall tower. Not only that but if I wished to be counted as righteous (respectable, decent and good) — characterized by my faith and devotion — I would not choose to be independent and proud but run toward that great tower in confidence. After all, God is strong and mighty and capable of withstanding attack, earthquakes and floods.

Some translations of the Bible say:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

the righteous run to it and are safe.

The Message Bible says it like this:

God’s name is a place of protection—

good people can run there and be safe.

The great news? Even speaking the name of God can offer you protection.

The irony of that visual will stay with me as that very evening the rain thundered down upon our house as I have never heard it before. In fact, we ran downstairs to turn on the back porch light and watch it pelt the back deck. We marveled at how quickly the water pooled and formed small rivers down our driveway.

How many times have I skimmed over that short passage, understanding the visual but not particularly relating to it? I believe this short passage is meant to teach me that storms can approach with great suddenness and threaten to wash me away. I also believe this scripture is meant to soothe my heart. I am reminded that the many things I have incorporated into my life, which seem to build upon my sense of protection and security, need to be continually re-evaluated. When I want to flee I might need to run back, instead. When I want to question God’s compassion, His power, and His interest in the welfare of those I dearly love, I must not run from Him out of anger but run to Him, instead. Stepping His way insures I will learn more and grow in ways yet to be understood.

A look into other Old Testament books in the Bible reveals a number of slightly differing names for God, each hyphenated to specifically reveal a different aspect of His character. I am particularly fond of Jehovah-shalom: God is peace. When I think about God as a peacemaker it reminds me that His love for peace should encourage me to serve as a peacemaker in my home and workplace. Jehovah-shalom reminds me that moving into His presence (while doing things like praying or painting, quilting or scrap booking, cooking or chopping wood, riding a horse or listening to music —you choose!) has potential to offer each one of us an experience of blessed peace because we have invited Him to be there. We have called His name, longed for Him —and He has come our way because He promised He would.

Let’s look for God this week, move His direction and see what He has for us. Perhaps it will be wisdom. Maybe peace or hope. Maybe strength, discernment, tact or boldness. God is in every way like a strong tower — a place where we can learn and grow and draw every closer to Him.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is jbklope@hotmail.com

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