From Orphan to Adopted.
As I started this chapter, in the back of my mind I was already assuming “this won’t really apply much to me”. Then I came across the story Pastor Gray shares of a person who left him an anonymous comment that he shouldn’t call God “daddy” because it hurts people.
Pausing for a moment, I must share I have often felt my insides tighten when I hear people refer to God as their “daddy”. I know God is my “Father”, and I have no hesitations calling Him my “Father” – but daddy? It bothers me. I find myself on guard. I think it must be disrespectful. It must be unworthy of who He truly is. How can we take our God who is Holy and Sacred and then dare to bring him down to a level of “daddy”?
Part of Pastor Gray’s response to this anonymous person was the following;
In the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) as well as in the apostle Paul’s letters, Jesus and Paul both use the Aramaic word Abba to describe God the Father. The Word Abba is equivalent to the English word daddy or papa. Abba is a term that paints a picture of the intimacy that God the Father desires with His children. Abba paints the picture of a tenderhearted, love-filled father reaching down to pick up and hug his child.
I was prickled. Prickled because according to this response, to call God “Abba” or “daddy” is an extremely intimate moment between He as the Father and I as His child. I was prickled because I don’t call God “daddy”.
Then I cried.
I cried because I wondered why don’t I call Him “daddy”? What was I missing here?
So – no offense to Pastor Gray – I needed to look into this a bit deeper.
I discovered the number of times God is called Father far outweighs the number of times He is called “Abba”.
There are only three places in the New Testament where God is specifically called Abba: Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6.
The rest of the time the word Father is used, and often is used as Father in heaven: Matthew 5:45 (and throughout Matthew), Mark 11:25, and Luke 11:13.
Then I learned when Jesus is praying, many believe that when we read Father in heaven Jesus prays this with the implication of Abba.
I pulled out a Scofield Referenced Edition Bible (ironically loaned to me by my wonderful Father-in-law) and looked up God (His Names) in the Subject Index. Under “Father” all the scriptures mentioned above are listed together.
In other words, it doesn’t differentiate between Father in heaven and Abba, both point back to God as Father.
Then I came across this:
Is God ever addressed as “Friend” in Scripture? I wondered when I recalled the line of the song “As the Deer” by Martin Nystrom that goes, “You’re my Friend and you are my Brother, even though you are a King….” Several times Abraham is called “the friend of God” (2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23). Jesus calls the disciples “friends” (John 15:14-15). In mutual human friendships, at least, each party is free to call the other “friend.” It stands to reason, then, that God is our Friend, in the sense that a person might be said to be a “friend of the king” or a “friend of the president.” Certainly the metaphor is used in Scripture, but only one way, of us being God’s friends. No where is God addressed as “Friend” (except with heavy irony in Jeremiah 3:4). Perhaps that’s just accidental. But perhaps it is this way so that we might not presume on God’s friendship as a relationship between equals.
Perhaps this is the reason that Jesus taught us the friendship and love of God in a metaphor of a greater to a lesser, of a dear Father to a beloved son or daughter. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught us to call God “Abba.” ~Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
So what does this all mean?
To me, it means that I am a friend of God, and He is my Father. Why do I not call Him daddy sometimes when I pray to Him? Because instead of realizing that God IS the standard for “daddy” and is the perfect Holy daddy, I thought to call him daddy would be to bring Him down to a human standard of daddy. I know there are some adults in the world who still call their Father’s “daddy”, I’m not one of those adults. Earthly fathers and their children don’t always have intimate relationships. Many can have relationships, and even pretty good ones, just not intimate.
God is not an Earthly father. He is a Heavenly Father and He wants an intimate relationship with me.
Jesus wants me to have that intimate relationship with His Abba, through Him.
I remember the first time my son called my husband “dad”. He used the word tentatively, watching my husband out of the corner of his eye to see if he would be corrected or rebuked. His heart was not coming from a place of disrespect or mocking. He genuinely wanted to call this man “dad”. My husband smiled and answered his question. My husband never forced my son to call him dad, and never corrected him during those months when my son went back and forth between “dad” and “Jim”.
Now I can’t remember the last time my son called my husband “Jim”. My husband did adopt my son, and my son calls him “dad” without second guessing it or waiting for rebuke for using the word. He trusts that this man is his dad.
So I guess that is my big ah-ha moment. We are adopted children of God through the blood of His son Jesus Christ. Maybe for some of us, it just takes us a little longer to trust that we can, when we need to, humbly come before our Father and call Him “daddy”. He is our Father in Heaven. He is our Abba. Our Daddy.
And I am no longer prickly. 🙂
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