Last Sunday my brother preached on Luke 11:1-13 (Typically known as the Lord’s Prayer, although some have coined the term, “The Disciples’ Prayer”). The message was comprehensive but I just couldn’t get past the very first point – The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of our identity. When Jesus starts to teach the disciples how to pray, he begins with the word “Father” to address God.
The actual word “Father” that he uses cannot be found in any other Jewish Literature to refer to God leading up to that point. It was a term of endearment, “Abba”. It was addressing God as we would address our “daddies”. Very informal, familiar, intimate. Matt remarked that it was interesting to note that Jesus starts every prayer we see in scripture with
with only ONE exception. As Jesus
endured all of the punishment for every sin in all of humanity in our place, he
cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The one time he prays “God” and not “Abba” is
precisely why we (you and I) can now call God our Father as well.
The problem comes when I forget that I’m a child of God--- adopted into his family in an eternal covenant of grace. As Matt stated, “I forget that I’m a child of God and start acting like an orphan.” As if I have no one who has embraced me “no matter what”, drawn me in and called me by a new name. I struggle to remember who I am and who my “Abba” (“Daddy”) is.
The concept of God as a father has not always resonated with me. My father and I spent many years in a relationship fraught with conflict (I did get his permission to publish this first). In my childish eyes, I associated discipline with punishment. I read his fear as anger. And I internalized his “teaching” as me never being “good enough”… there was always something I could have done better. A picture of a god like that did not appeal to me in the slightest. In addition I grew up knowing that I had had a birth father that was killed when I was 7 weeks old and it left a big empty hole in my heart. I couldn’t imagine God or anyone else for that matter taking their place in the void I carried with me. I was instead drawn to scriptures that highlighted his more “feminine” traits. Verses like Matthew 23:37 where God says, “…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…” or references to God being our “hiding place” or refuge. These made sense to me.
My dad will be the first one to tell you that sometime in my early 20’s God worked a healing in our relationship. I was able then to take God in his entirety… both his male and female attributes.
I think another moment when I found a new level of understanding God as my Father/Daddy was when we adopted our daughter from China. In China the word for Daddy is “Baba”… so very close to “Abba”. The first time I heard my daughter call Larry “Baba”, a shift happened again. I had seen Larry parent all of our other children and do it well. What made this situation different was the fact that this little girl, who had never seen, heard, or smelled a “white” person in her life, was calling this stranger, “Baba” not knowing that for many months this Daddy had gazed at pictures of her, prayed for her daily, prepared for her, worked hard to get to her and to finally give her a true home and a “Baba”.
When I thought of all that Larry had done and given to make this child his own I grasped anew all that God had done to make me part of His family. All the “work” that went into bringing Madeleine home is nothing compared to what God did so that I could be adopted and call him “Abba/Daddy”.
So, what was my “take away”? To continually remind myself who I am and who my Daddy is… to keep this as the lens through which I see everything else… my joys, my worship, my marriage, my parenting, my confidence (or lack thereof) and my trials… God is MY Daddy! He is completely in control. Everything thing that happens in my life, easy or difficult, tragic or joyous is ultimately for my good and His glory.