Our Daddy Who Art in Heaven
The other night I was at the dinning room table sharing a late night snack with my three youngest children when something interesting happened. I was about halfway through a bowl of raisin bran when I noticed the concerned look on the face of my nine year old daughter.
"What's wrong Nats?" I asked around a spoonful of cereal.
She kept her gaze fixed on her plate of corn chips for a long while and wrinkled her brow. I could see that she was having trouble responding, trouble finding the right words to express what was on her heart. She swallowed hard and sat back in her chair but kept her eyes on the chips while she spoke.
"It seems selfish for God to want us to sing songs about Him and to praise Him" she blurted out. "Is it Daddy?"
I took the time to thoroughly chew a bite of raisin bran before speaking. God had presented me with a golden moment and I didn't want to toss it away with a glib response. I glanced at my six year old son across the table as I placed my cereal spoon in the bowl. His eyes were round with attention; evidently his sister's concern struck a cord with him as well.
"Let me ask you something Nat. Do you like to give me gifts?"
"Yes" she nodded.
"And you know that I love to get gifts from you - especially things you make for me, right?"
She nodded again as I toyed with the spoon, stirring my raisin bran.
"How do you feel when I ask you to draw me a picture to put on my office wall? Do you think that's selfish?"
"No." She finally looked up at me.
"Well, I'm glad, because I love to receive gifts from you and the other kids - things you've made or things you buy."
I reached out and brushed the hair away from her face.
"It makes me happy because I love you so much and when you give me something it reminds me of how much you love me."
I could see the understanding dawn on her face as I continued.
"That's how it is with God and us. He loves us and he enjoys getting gifts from us just like any Daddy would. In fact the Bible says that we can call Him our Daddy - remember that?"
"The gifts we give God are hymns, songs of praise, obedience to His word and things like that. God asks for those gifts because He is our Daddy - just like I ask for gifts from you because I'm your Daddy. Do you understand?"
She nodded again and smiled, obviously relieved. As I leaned over to give her a hug I glanced at her brother and saw that he was thinking through the conversation as well. I breathed a prayer of thanks to my Father in heaven and turned my attention to the bowl of soggy cereal.
Now, I know there are those who would fault me for not reminding my daughter that God deserves our praise because He is the Creator and Master of the universe. Some would prefer that I had dwelt on the fact that we really can do nothing that is acceptable to God; it is only in Christ that our feeble efforts at service are satisfactory to Him. Indeed there is much more that I could have said about our responsibility to serve God in attitude, word and action; but my children have heard that from me before and they will hear it again no doubt. What my daughter (and son), needed to hear that night is the same thing that a whole lot of Christians need to hear; God loves you and He loves to receive gifts from you because he is your Daddy. There is nothing disrespectful about calling our Father in heaven "Daddy." Paul tells us that the Spirit empowers us to cry out to God, "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15), and it is generally understood that the Aramaic word "Abba" is a term of endearment not unlike the English "Daddy." My children show no disrespect to me by calling me "Daddy" or "Dad" and we show no disrespect to God by yielding to the Spirit's urging to run to our Abba Father's embrace.
I'm convinced that the Church universal would be far more vital and alive if more of its members were comfortable sitting in the lap of the Creator and Master of the universe. What joy, what energy there would be in God's children if they had the kind of relationship with God that allowed them to call Him Daddy. I'm not suggesting that we move toward an easy breezy Christianity devoid of obedience or responsibility. That's what some folks seem to think results when Christians become too familiar with the heavenly Father. I disagree. We are more apt to obey the One whom we know loves us deeply - and we love deeply in return. We are more likely to act responsibly when we know that our behavior will honor our Daddy, the Daddy whom we love with all our heart.
Perhaps you can't fathom having this sort of relationship with our heavenly Father - I've talked with plenty of Believers who are in that boat. Usually it's because of a less than perfect earthly Father, a Father that may have been selfish, harsh or uncaring. But I want to encourage you; seek out the arms of our heavenly Daddy. Press in through prayer and pleading. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you as Daddy. Consider the Love He has shown through Jesus Christ. Draw Him a picture, sing Him a song or do a dance for Him. He's the kind of Daddy who enjoys the gifts you give Him - not because He is selfish but because he loves you. So lavish gifts of praise upon Him and worship Him with abandon. And don't give up until you find yourself in His embrace - in the lap of your heavenly Daddy.
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