Summary: What does it mean to call God our Heavenly FATHER
Anyone ever seen the original The Parent Trap with Hayle Mills done in 1961? Have you seen the remake from 1998? In the remake Lindsay Lohan plays the twins and Dennis Quaid is the father. If you know the story then you’ll remember that identical twins, separated at birth by their parent’s divorce meet 11 years later at camp and change places. They want to meet the parent they’ve never had.
As Annie James, Lindsay flies home to her father who doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. Their conversation goes like this.
She runs to embrace him with a big smile, saying, "Dad! Finally!" The father tells her he missed her and a lot had been happening. Annie responds, "A lot’s been happening to me too, Dad. I mean, I feel I’m practically a new woman!"
In the car Quaid notices she can’t stop looking at him and asks, "What? Did I cut myself shaving?"
Annie answers, "No. It’s just seeing you for the first time. I mean, you know, in so long."
As they drive Annie discusses the camp, ending almost every sentence with "Dad". He asks, "Why do you keep saying ’Dad’ at the end of every sentence?"
Annie answers, "I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing it, Dad. Sorry, Dad." They both laugh. "Do you want to know why I keep saying ’Dad’? The truth?"
The father says, "Because you missed your old man so much, right?"
"Exactly. It’s because in my whole life—I mean, you know, for the past eight weeks—I was never able to say the word ’Dad’. Never. Not once. And if you ask me, a dad is an irreplaceable person in a girl’s life. Think about it. There’s a whole day devoted to celebrating fathers. Just imagine someone’s life without a father. Never buying a Father’s Day card. Never sitting on their father’s lap. Or being able to say ’Hi, Dad,’ or, ’What’s up, Dad?’ or, ’Catch you later, Dad.’ I mean, a baby’s first words are always ’Dada,’ aren’t they?"
The father asks, "Let me see if I get this. You missed being able to call me ’Dad’?"
Annie answers, "Yeah, I really have, Dad."1
I imagine you get the point. We too have someone who we call "Dad". Yes, I’m well aware not everyone fathers like shown on our bulletin. But God revealed Himself to us as Father not so we’d perceive maleness; but so that we might understand the care and intimacy He provides for those who are His children.
I believe that those who had rotten and hellish relationships with their fathers will find in God a Father who is able to heal their pain and loss. Those who embrace the God as Father can find the absent father has been replaced with the one who will never leave you or forsake you. The find the abusive father is replaced by a real Father, one who protects and keeps us safe. The weak, emasculated father is now the Almighty who is strong to save. The father who ruled by fear, threat and guilt now urges us with a true love devotion to what is best for us.
In this politically correct culture we live in it may be frowned upon but the fact is God’s self-revelation is that of "Father" but as Karl Barth said, ""when Scripture calls God our Father, it adopts an analogy only to transcend it at once." That is, Jesus moves us beyond our understanding of Fatherhood and gives us a picture of the perfect Father—God. It’s not the distant and aloof father of Mary Poppins or Life with Father. It’s not the abusive drunk who beats, abuses, and abandons. And its not the George Burns and Morgan Freeman version of god who hands out power and serves as the dispenser of wisdom. The God of the Bible is our daddy. He’s Abba.
Let me step away from the prayer for a moment to share with you why the movement away from "Father" language. It is somewhat related to the issue of male image but I believe at a deeper level it is an attempt to keep God at arms length. It is a human attempt to make God something other than the personal, intimate, seeker of the lost that His son came to save.
The first phrase that we are considering is, "Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name." It sets the stage for what is to come because it is not the prayer of a peon to a Lord; or the underling to the master. We come to God as his children. God is NOT everyone’s father. God is the father of those who trust in Jesus, His son. John 1:12 says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name" ASV.