Early last spring, I came across a super cute idea for an advent calendar and told my daughter that we should save it to make for Christmas. It was based around looking at the names of God each day of advent. Of course, we all recognize many of these names, but something just caught my spirit and I wanted to know more.

Well, that seed was planted and it wasn’t the end of this idea. Over the months during the pandemic and multiple lock downs, scriptures, books, and sermons that I heard all echoed the names of God theme. The Lord started speaking to me about what I call him and how I see Him. In the Bible, God went so far as to even give people NEW names when they followed Him. I have to think, based on that alone, that the names we use are important and valuable in our understanding of our God.

As part of my testimony, I often share about a time when it seemed like my whole world imploded. I was terribly ill, my grandmother and dad were in their final stages of life, our son was sick, the contract on our house had been cancelled, I had a strained relationship with a long-time friend, and my husband had lost his job. It seemed like all of the things and people that were valuable to me were somehow slipping away.

Yep, I said that correctly. Slipping right out of my grasp where I held them so tightly. There was a moment when the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart, asking if He alone would be enough for me if nothing ever went back to “normal.” I was faced with the hard reality of working through what it meant to open my tight grip on even the good and positive parts of my world and truly lay them before God.

Jesus had been my Savior for a long time, but it wasn’t until then that I started to experience and call God by new names. He became my Abba Father when my dad left this earth, my Healer when doctors couldn’t fix my health, my Provider in a season of financial question, my Friend when I felt so alone, my Wonderful Counselor when I needed wisdom to proceed, my Vine that held me to truth when the world seemed dark, my Good Shepherd who protected and cared for me when I was open to defeat, and my Prince of Peace in the face of difficulty. I discovered that I never wanted to go back to “normal” after experiencing God in these new ways.

Wow, back to 2020 (well, 2021 now). Normal has taken on a new meaning this past year for most everyone that I know. Virtually nothing has transpired to be what I had expected and anticipated. Moving across the world from everything that we knew in the middle of this global pandemic has shaken my flexibility and comfort level over and over. It triggers my tendency to grip the things that are valuable to me.

BUT, it is in the season where I have nothing to give, exhaustion rules, and uncertainly reigns that God can reach to the depths of my soul and reveal more of his character to me. At a time when nothing is normal or usual, God has been reminding me of the importance of how I see Him and call His name. And again, I ask myself, will He be enough if normal is never returned? He IS everything. He holds every name for every need that I have before I even know that I need it. He is my Alpha and Omega, my Immanuel, my YHWH, and I never want to go back to “normal.”

– By Shannon DePue, OMS Hungary Team Member