In opening to my devotions today, I rediscovered a familiar hymn verse, as well as its rich meaning in my memory. The following is that hymn verse from What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Are you weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield you, you will find a solace there.

I've carried the tune and the words around with me through my day, and have felt closer to God, and God's work as a result. I feel as though I have spent the day with a trusted colleague and supervisor, and that what I have done has made a difference in the world.

The image of God as our friend, a friend who loves us deeply, is strong throughout the verses, but particularly this one, perhaps because we can all relate to being burdened with worry, having someone be upset with us or even betray us. Sometimes we just feel barraged from everything around us, completely overwhelmed with life. The image of God in this one verse is as a friend who loves us, but even more, we are presented with a God who we can also call on to be our refuge, our shield and our solace.

Friend, Refuge, Shield, Solace, all names for God held in the recesses of my memory that now make me wonder about other images of God. How else may I address God, and how will these images and ways of calling on God's presence impress my perception of God in the world and in my life?

I returned to the scriptures for the day for further images of God.

Many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.” But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.” Psalm 3:2,3

To this day I have had help from God, and so i stand here, testifying to both small and great.” Acts 26:22

Both passages contain more images of God, more ways to call out God as a part of life. In the passage from the Psalms, God is again called a shield, a guard all around the person who speaks here, someone who protects even when everybody is saying God won't help. God is also called this person's glory, and the one who lifts up their head to see the future again. The passage from Acts refers to God as a helper who gives strength for this person to stand, and to testify.

Considering these images and names for God, I have to sit back and really think of all the ways I have heard God addressed throughout my life. Father, Redeemer, Lord. Creator, Comforter, Guide, Companion. Holy One, Yahweh, Sustainer, Mother Hen. Holy Spirit, Savior, Wisdom, Bakerwoman. The list is endless, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. But as I rattle off all of these words and phrases in my mind, something quite wonderful happens: God becomes more. God becomes larger, deeper, stronger. God becomes more loving, compassionate, and more tender. Who God is becomes more tangibly rich to me and in turn, I feel myself grow into more of whom God calls me to be.

Recalling God as a gentle, compassionate caretaker reminds me to become more gentle, compassionate and caring with those in need who come into my life. Recognizing God as all powerful, stronger than mountains and more enduring than the seas, leads me to the part of myself that is able to be powerful, strong and enduring when opportunity calls for me to be so. Because God is, so I can be.

I sat back today and remembered something important: limiting my way of looking at God, addressing God in a few, familiar terms and phrases also limits my perception of God at work around me. What I have also realized is that I miss the opportunity to see God at work in me. When I expand my image of God, how I perceive God and address God, God becomes more, and so do I.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting