January 24, 2021 | My Jottings
Good Sunday afternoon to you, friends. I woke this morning to a freshly fallen three inches of snow, and it’s lovely. Especially since it’s above zero degrees, which is always a bonus in usually bone-chilling January.
After I got up in the dark and went down the hall, I turned on this little lamp in the hutch in the kitchen. I poured my cup of cold brew coffee with a little splash of Nutpods and a little splash of organic half and half, then I fed Old Millie the schnauzer and let her outside. She looked at the snow on the front deck like do I really have to put my warm little doggy feet in this again? After she came back in, I settled into my plaid chair in my bedroom to read, do my Community Bible Study lesson, to pray, and to cry. My husband Lloyd worries about this a little because he’s not accustomed to someone whose eyes brim with tears so many times in one day. I reassure him it’s pretty much who I am. If I sit down with my Bible and devotionals and journal, I will probably cry. Sometimes I can put my finger on what I’m weeping about, sometimes not. My soul just cries out to God in words I can’t express. If I don’t bring a handful of tissues with me during my quiet time in the morning, I’ll be getting up and down numerous times, so I try to be prepared because I refuse to blow my nose on my flannel nightgown. I also wrap my cold neck with a prayer shawl my daughter knitted for me years ago. I light a beeswax candle and turn on my bedroom fireplace. I have very soft music playing that helps elevate my thoughts and spirit.
We are spending thirty weeks in the Gospel of John this year in CBS, and I can’t remember when a study has been so needed and weighty for me. This morning, I camped on the lesson where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet before He goes to the cross. He calls these grown men “little children,” and I learned that this is the only time in the Gospels the Greek word for “little children” is used. I pictured Jesus calling me “little child” or “little daughter” and the tears came. Don’t we all hope that God will deal with us tenderly, that we will know without a doubt that we really are His precious child and that He speaks to us in a Fatherly way?
Then, one of the questions that followed was, “Has being able to call God Abba (Romans 8:15; Abba is the Aramaic term for ‘Daddy’) ever reassured you when you were frightened?”
I thought about that for a while. I don’t usually call God “Daddy.” I call Him Lord, or Heavenly Father, or I often speak the wondrous name of Jesus. This made me think about two people I’ve known who addressed God in a way that struck me.
One man was a friend of Michael’s years ago. He was a big, hulking guy with a beard, unruly shoulder-length hair, and piercing blue eyes. He had too many cats to count, lived by himself in a cabin, wore plaid flannel shirts, jeans with suspenders, and took a bath every Saturday night. He was a gentle giant who was humble, hardworking, and was always there to lend a hand, whistling cheerfully no matter how hard the labor. Michael loved and trusted him, and hired him to help with carpentry a lot. This man also loved Jesus and knew his Bible backwards and forwards. Decades ago he heard me talking to Michael (tearfully, of course) about someone who had wounded me. This person was a believer. Michael’s friend slowly shook his head from side to side after he overheard what I had shared, looked into my eyes and said, “That’s not Dad.” He called God Dad, and he was trying to help me see that God was not the author of what was being said to me. He didn’t condemn or judge the person who had hurt me, he didn’t say anything at all except those three words. And over the years I heard him repeatedly speak God’s name as “Dad,” and it touched my heart.
Michael and I used to be in a Bible study group called a cell group in a church we attended for many years. The people in the cell group were like family and we met weekly to study, pray, do fun things, and grow together spiritually. The oldest member of our group was named Arlene. She was in her eighties, a widow, was a tad bit quirky, and had the biggest smile ever. One time after church I stopped to chat with her and she told me her feet were hurting her. I remarked, “You need someone to give you a good foot massage.” Arlene’s eyes lit up and she replied, “Thank you! Can you come over this coming week!?” Uhhh, that’s not exactly what I had in mind, I thought. But I went to her house a few days later, which was jam-packed with interesting things, she made me a cup of tea, and I massaged her feet, ankles and calves with lotion for a good long time. The main thing I remember about Arlene is how she addressed God when she bowed her head to pray. She called Him “Father Dear.” And her voice would get softer and more intimate, like He was right there beside her, and she was speaking to the person she loved the most with her whole heart.
Dad. Father Dear. Abba. Daddy. I know that Jesus has invited us into that kind of loving familiarity with the Creator of the universe, but I have yet to settle upon that kind of a name when I speak to my heavenly Father.
When you pray, how do you address God?