By The Merry Monk
I sat alone in a dark hospital room waiting for news. It had been a long day filled with intense emotion, but time was about to stop. The door slowly opened and a silhouette filled the bright doorway. I anxiously stood up as a smiling nurse approached me. Then she whispered, “Hello, Daddy.”
My daughter was born less than an hour earlier and my wife was recovering from a C-section down the hall. I took a deep breath and reached out my arms to hold my firstborn child for the first time. She was so small, so light and delicate. I tenderly cradled pure beauty wrapped in soft blankets as I welcomed her into the world.
I don’t know how long we were left alone in that hospital room. I was lost in the moment, overwhelmed by love as I gazed at my little girl. All at once it struck me; this is what it’s like to be a father.
Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. He instructed them to begin with,“Our Father….” Despite this clear teaching, I spent most of my Christian life praying to Jesus instead. I guess Jesus seemed more approachable to me than the Father. I probably would have sooner prayed to the Spirit than the Father—even He didn’t seem as scary.
When you think about it, my fear of the Father wasn’t an altogether illogical conclusion. The Father seems pretty intense in the Bible. Before we finish reading the first book, He’s kicked people out of paradise, flooded the world, destroyed cities with fire and brimstone, and even ordered His chosen people to cut the skin off of their…well…you get the idea. The last book of the Bible is even more fearful, especially if you’re not on the winning side. Despite this threat of extreme retribution, we still manage to give the Father plenty of reason to punish us—but He doesn’t. We are great sinners and He is holy, but the Son is a greater Savior than we are sinners. The close relationship we have with Jesus is natural, in a way. As our older brother, Jesus readily stepped in to take the whoopin’ that was rightfully ours. We tend to want to be around someone who does that for us.
Now, I also believed there’s only one God and that He doesn’t have Multiple Personality Disorder. Perhaps, that’s why I didn’t think twice about dodging the Father—or even notice I was avoiding Him. I had also learned from a popular radio broadcaster, Steve Brown, that there’s no jealousy within the Trinity and that the important thing about prayer is that we do it. So, I continued to pray…to Jesus.
Then one night I had dinner with a good friend and afterward we began talking about prayer. He said that I should be praying to the Father. At first, I wrote him off as being “uptight,” and thought the best resolution was to quit having dinner with him. But then, he reminded me of Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2 where Jesus taught us to pray saying, “When you pray, say: ‘Father…’” For days I couldn’t get the words out of my head.
Later, it seemed the apostle Paul joined my friend in disrupting my prayer life. In Romans 8:15 Paul wrote, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” He doesn’t say that we cry “Lord,” “Master” or “Jesus,” but instead, he says we cry, “Father.” Paul also tells us that the spirit of God the Son himself, is within us crying, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). This is the same way that Jesus addressed God in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). Paul is telling us that we are called into the same intimate relationship with God which Jesus has always enjoyed!
So, taking the advice of my friend, Jesus, Paul and the Holy Spirit, I tried it. I started addressing God as Father. Although, at first, my sin made me really uncomfortable, I kept at it. This simple change—combined with becoming a father myself—has revolutionized and deepened my relationship with God.
The love and bond I have with my three children is overwhelmingly intense. However, it’s only the fallen, creaturely shadow of what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always passionately enjoyed. The Trinity is the archetype of all relationship and diversity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist in perpetual intimate communion, in need of nothing and overflowing with blessedness.They have experienced this from eternity, except for the period of time when the Father turned His back on the Son as the Son became sin and died for His enemies. This unimaginable event reveals something of the love of God that Jesus’ self-sacrifice does not, and it’s best understood through the eyes of a father.
I think I would take a bullet for my son, and maybe even for a friend, but I don’t think I would take a bullet for an enemy. Yet, God the Son loved His enemies so much that He laid down His life so that they could join Him in calling God “Father.” This imagery is amazing when we think about it. While I might take a bullet for a friend, I certainly wouldn’t sacrifice my son’s life for anyone. It’s absolutely absurd to think that I’d let my son die to save the life of an enemy—even if he was willing to do it, as Jesus was. Yet, that’s what the Father did. He suffered the loss of His beloved Son for the love of His enemies, so that we could be transformed into many sons and daughters joining with Him in glory for the rest of eternity (Hebrews 2:10). As Paul encourages us again, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:31-33).
It’s madness to question the approachability or love of our Father. How could I have thought that my sin was so dark that the great light of our Father’s love couldn’t consume it? All of His intensity in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation has the purpose of making our union with Him possible. Leviticus 26:12 expresses the Father’s heart for us, “I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” O. Palmer Robertson appropriately calls this the “Immanuel Principle” of God’s covenants.
Now that I understand this concept more fully, I often pray saying, “Thank you, Father, that you’re not who I thought you were.” Although God is pleased for us to use any of the many ways He has revealed Himself to us when we address Him, if we fail to understand our relationship with Him as our Father, we’re seriously missing out. All we need to do is to open ourselves to His Spirit in prayer. When the Spirit possesses us, He unites us with the body of God the Son and gently brings us to the point when we cry, “Abba!”
One day, we’ll wake up in our Heavenly Father’s strong arms to be tenderly cradled and welcomed into the blessed communion of the Trinity. The passage of time will slow to a standstill and we’ll get lost in the eternal moment as we’re overwhelmed by love. We’ll gaze on the Father through the eyes of the Son and feel the passionate warmth of His gaze in return. All at once it will strike us; this is what it’s like to call God “Father.” But we don’t have to wait until we die to start experiencing this. Nor do we need to be a father to comprehend it. We can start today by praying, “Our Father…”
Erik Guzman is The Merry Monk of Love…a whiskey mystic, a silly son of God, a sword saint and a divine DJ. Visit TheMerryMonk.com for some messy monkery. Erik is also Executive Producer at Key Life Network. He can be heard on the nationally syndicated talk show Steve Brown Etc. and as announcer for Key Life. He has a wife, three children, a BA in Mass Communication and an MBA. He’s also a drummer, 3rd degree black belt in Aikido, and Master of Theology student at Reformed Theological Seminary.