Saturday, December 13, 2008

Father? Abba.

I have trouble conceptualizing of God as “Father.”
At best, it’s sterile. Be honest. Does not the word “father” conjure up images of the von Trapp children? Very formal, very respectful, and while I do not doubt the love of their father toward his children (or the love of the children toward their father), it is far from what I would describe as a “loving relationship.” These children go to bed each night with a wave; no hug, no kiss, no bedtime story. A surrogate must provide all of these things for them.
At worst, “father” is distant and angry. I know this has been true in my own life, as a young child, and I am sure I am not alone. You know what I mean, when after a particularly harsh punishment or stern “no,” you wake up the next morning to find your male parental figure standing in the kitchen, smiling a good morning to you. You look up slightly, not wanting to be disrespectful, and, nodding, say, “Father,” then proceed as if he doesn’t even exist. You want him to know you still know he’s there, but you also create as much distance as possible between the two of you and the message is clear: you are angry.
Neither of these fits my image of God, but those are all I can latch onto when I think of “Father.” I think Jesus had it right, though. I don’t claim to be a scholar in Aramaic, but from what I have studied, Jesus’s word “Abba” more closely translates to our word, “Daddy.”
And isn’t that what we all want? A daddy. It’s so beautiful. He is the strong man who becomes your rock. You sit on his lap and absorb his warmth. You listen to his stories because you honor his wisdom. You seek his advice because you respect his judgment. When life deals you a tough blow, he scoops you up and restores your sense of safety. He gives you a name and a place in life. He is everything you need, and most of all, he is loving. He is an active part of your life. You share a two-way relationship.
Maybe it’s just me, but God as “Father” puts an unnecessary barrier between us. I can’t talk to a father. But I will run to a daddy. He’ll see me coming a mile away, but the force of my impact will still knock him down. We’ll laugh; we’ll cry; we’ll talk. Mostly, we’ll love.
So if God the Father works for you, then by all means, work hard to develop that relationship. But if you, like me, can think of nothing but childish protest or the von Trapp children, then maybe re-think your name for Him. I don’t think God minds one bit when I pray, “Hey Daddy…”
He just smiles and says, “Yeah, kiddo?”

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