A few months ago, I had a pretty significant conversation with one of my dearests about calling God “daddy” or “dad” or “papa” and how I struggled with it. In some ways, I felt like we were reducing this big, huge, almighty, most powerful, awesome God to something so small as a dad. I also felt like my idea of what a dad is and what God is just didn’t line up – the two things didn’t match in my brain or my heart.
Then comes along a guest speaker at church yesterday, and the title of his message was “Call Me Dad”. sigh. The Holy Spirit was about to do some work in my heart, I knew it.
1 John 3:1 (AMP) says, “See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”
Luckily that was the only scripture for the whole sermon because there’s definitely enough in there for me to unpack without any additional words.
One thing I learned yesterday is that there is a brokenness in my definition of the word “dad”. What it means to me is not God. And in many ways it’s not a good word at all. I also am beginning to understand that my definition of the word dad was never meant to be based on my earthly experiences or understanding. If I’m trying to make God synonymous with an earthy father, the two will never align.
Part of yesterday’s message was trying to understand how God wants me to see Him. “How do I get Him the way He wants to be got?” was a repeating question.
We need to understand how to rest in God’s great love. As we know, it isn’t based on our own works. We can’t earn His love. Nothing we do will make Him love us more. This is such good news! It means that no matter what, His GREAT love – not minimal love, not mediocre love, not withholding love – but His GREAT love is already ours. We had nothing to do with the way He loves us, He just does it. If we’ve been a believer for any length of time, this isn’t new news, but it is news that we sometimes forget. Or that we can’t fully grasp. Let’s continue to remind each other, okay?
We need to learn to receive the gift of lavish grace. The pastor used an analogy of biscuits and gravy and the way he told it would be no good in written format, but it is something we can visualize… a plate of warm biscuits with gravy smothering so much it’s running off the plate – that’s God’s grace. It’s so much that it overflows and we can’t even get all of it. Similar to His love, we can’t buy or earn His grace, it’s just ours. And it’s a gift… we all know that once we try to earn or buy something, we take the concept of it being a gift away. It’s free. And it’s ours. He gives it no matter if we think we deserve it or not. Addictions? Grace. Adultery? Grace. Porn? Grace. Lying? Grace. Selfishness? Grace. There’s literally nothing His grace cannot touch.
Finally, as it’s stated in the scripture above, we have to allow God to rename us. He calls us daughter and son. He has given us that name and when we (I) take that away from Him and refuse to call Him dad, I’m saying what His word says isn’t right or true. I’m saying that He didn’t rename me to be His precious daughter. We have allowed the world around us to name us. We’ve picked up the names the enemy has given us; unworthy, unattractive, unlovable, unbelieving, fat, guilty, shame, dumb, ugly, etc… These names have been given to us by someone who has no power or permission to name us. Our identity comes directly and solely from Christ. We have to stop giving the rights of who we are and to Whom we belong away so easily.
So, I’m convinced. Calling Him “Dad” is not minimizing who God is nor is it comparing Him to my own definition of what a dad looks like here in the world. Abba, Daddy God, Dad, Poppa, or whichever version of Father I land on, is allowing my heart to be consumed with a great love that shows lavish grace to me and Who calls me His own. Thanks, Dad.