Jesus used metaphors to describe the roles He plays in our lives to help us visualize His mission and life’s work. He, of course, had one central mission – to save us from sin and death.

But how He was to accomplish that mission was broken down into smaller metaphorical pictures. He did not only say, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6 KJV), which could have explained His entire mission in a nutshell. He used other metaphors too: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35 KJV), “a fountain of water” (John 4:14 KJV), “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11 KJV) and many more. All these metaphors further define His mission.

If we are to use personal metaphors in our lives to help us visualize our life’s mission, we must also consider metaphors in at least four different areas. We all wear different hats or play different roles at different times.

We are all family members. Perhaps we are the parent in charge of the breadwinning. Perhaps we are the sibling caring for an aging parent. We all have responsibilities to our closest relationships. We are also individuals with the sole care of our personal growth and physical well-being. Then we have our career or business responsibilities, and last, but the most important, we have our duty to God. Creating a metaphor for each area of our lives can be helpful. A metaphor is a go-to place for our mind when we face obstacles and we become overwhelmed.

I have created four metaphors that have helped me in my life. The older you become, your family relationships mushroom. When I was raising my children, they were all under my roof, and I had more control of how I interacted with my family members. Now that I am a grandmother with grandchildren and great-grandchildren spread out over the U.S., it is more difficult to show individual love and caring for each one. Consequently, I often feel inadequate and overwhelmed at the task.


I beat myself up for not remembering every birthday, anniversary or holiday. I know I am missing out on relationships I will want in the future. I start to live in the “should” world. The “should” world is a place where the I-should-do-this-or-that stack up like mountainous waves on the sea. I look at the mountain and can see no way I can accomplish even the smallest part. This is a good time to remind myself that I am a mustard seed reaching heavenward. The mustard seed starts small and does a little growing every day. It puts out a leaf here and sends a deeper root down there. It is a gradual process, always seeking the light of heaven to know where to place the growth energy. Birthdays and Christmas do not need to dictate when I send gifts or write love letters. The Holy Spirit can let me know daily where to spend my precious time.

Lately, I have found another metaphor that has helped me feel energetic and physically strong. As we know, what we think about makes a difference in what we accomplish. I have felt weighed down with the negative political news, and sometimes my energy level is rock-bottom. I could feel my desire to accomplish anything waning. I wondered what “I am” metaphor I could use to help me get through the day.

I thought of a cheetah sitting in the grass watching some gazelles. Suddenly, he sprang into action and bounded over the grass after the gazelles. I felt the energy surge through my body. Of course, I am not a predatory person, but the energy is what I needed. I started thinking cheetah when I first awoke in the morning. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and started to work. It was amazing how the tasks fell away with my newfound energy. Now if I feel low on energy and I must continue to work, I visualize the energy of the cheetah. I let it fill up my body. I allow myself to feel it and move through me. It really makes a difference.

My husband gave me the metaphor I use for work. He called me a little bulldog. I knew he was not talking about my short, pudgy figure, though he could have. He was talking about my perseverance. He had seen me go through some rough waters as a teacher. There were uncooperative students and parents. There were projects that seemed to take on a monster life of their own. He saw me take hold as if with teeth to push through. I didn’t think of myself as a bulldog then, but in later years when my writing and my charity work hit a wall, I imagine the teeth of a bulldog sinking into the problem, shaking it and staying with it until it was done. That image is powerful.

I thought about my fourth metaphor for a long time. My relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life. I want to be an example of the believers. There is an old saying, “I want to live my life so that people seeing me will want to know Christ.” I wish I had been the originator of that thought, but I am not. The metaphor I have chosen for my relationship with God is a chandelier of prisms. I have chosen that image because a prism turns light into rainbows. Rainbows were first given to Noah as a promise that the Lord would never again flood the earth with water.

I have lived long enough to see that the Lord’s promises are always kept. He promised, “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Matt 7:7 KJV). I have had prayers answered. Sometimes the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Sometimes it is “No.” While sometimes, the Lord says, “I am not going to answer that right now, but, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’” (Psalm 46:10 KJV). With the passage of time, I have seen the wisdom of that answer, but I am convinced He will always be the master of my destiny if I seek His counsel and wisdom. Jesus also promised that He came into this life that people might have a more abundant life. I have found that to be true. I have always had the best of everything – not the things of the world but the blessings of God.

As I have fasted and prayed, my health has returned to me quickly as God promised through the prophet Isaiah. As I have kept the Ten Commandments of the Lord, I have lived a happy marriage and know what it is to be trusted and loved. Because I have kept the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17 KJV), I know what it is like to delight in others’ success and not be jealous of their rewards. I know what it is like to have the blessings of honoring my parents; I have lived long on the land. The promises of the Lord are myriad, and they are all fulfilled.

A chandelier has many pieces hanging from a high point on a ceiling. It showers light all over the room. Of course, a chandelier makes its own light as the electricity is turned on, but my chandelier is hanging in the bright sunlight of God’s Spirit. As the prism showers rainbows everywhere, I want to be ready to share my witness of Christ’s promises and the joy I have found in serving Him. As a chandelier chases darkness away, I too want to be a light in a dark world.

There are plenty of people showering the world with fear and doom. There are plenty of people who look for the bad and find it in everything. I want to shower the world with the light of God’s rainbows and help people see that for every dark shadow, God has created an equal abundance of light. He is truly the light of the world.

Jesus created metaphors to help us see His mission more clearly. We can in turn create our own metaphors to help us see our mission and life with purpose and direction. They can help us rise to new levels of awareness, and they can give our minds pictures and a place to go when we are discouraged and want to give up. If metaphors were useful to Christ, they can certainly be useful to you and me. end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.