It was when all the people were quiet, heads bowed. The room was hushed as the minister prayed, but that didn’t stop little Emery. She saw her Daddy on the front row. It was his day to serve as deacon and when she spotted him across the sanctuary, she didn’t hesitate.
“Daddy,” she called. “Daddy, Daddy!”
Right in the middle of the prayer.
The whole congregation beamed with hidden smiles, because Emery’d just done the praying for us. We finished up with the Lord’s Prayer, but it was just a coda — a tacked-on ending to a two-year-old’s perfect offering.
Teach Us to Pray
“Lord, teach us to pray,” the disciples said. Jesus was ushering in something new, something radical, and he’d given them the honor of being in on it, seeing what he was up to. They got to break bread with the Word incarnate and be the first to glimpse what this new covenant looked like.
So when they asked him to teach them, this is what he said,
“Our Father. . .”
Emery knows. She teaches us all, when she announces across the quiet church aisles that her Daddy is right over there.
You don’t have to see her face to know how it lights up as she speaks his name. He is her Daddy and in that moment, as far as Emery is concerned, that’s the only thing that matters.
A Shift in Perspective
A few years ago, when I was struggling with my faith and wondering how to make sense of my relationship with God, I stumbled into a new way of thinking. I was rocking my youngest child to sleep and this intense love came over me — as it often did during those sweet moments — but this time it was different.
This time God whispered soft and low into my soul.
You are my child, my baby,” he said. “This is how I love you. And so much more.”
It was a moment that forever altered my perspective. Because I’ve never thought of or experienced God the same way since.
As I struggled through those hard months, I learned to listen to soft lullabies and imagine God rocking me to sleep. I envisioned myself enfolded in his Daddy arms, safe and warm and sheltered in that moment from anything the outside world tried to hurl my way.
I learned in those months to think of God as “father,” or as Emery put it, “Daddy.”
What We Think About God
A.W. Tozer said,
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
I’m not sure how I thought of God before those dark days, but I know I’d never once pictured him rocking me to sleep. I’d never thought of myself as a child in his arms. At most, I would intellectually acknowledge him as “Father,” but it felt safer to keep my distance.
It wasn’t until that night in the rocking chair that I truly began to consider God as “Abba, Father,” to glimpse the intimacy of the relationship he wanted with me.
It was the night that changed everything.
You see, there are too many days when I have a hard time loving myself. I recognize others as worthy and deserving of God’s love, but not me. I start to think it can’t possibly be true.
But every time my thinking veers toward that kind of shame, God reminds me,
You are my child, my baby.”
I am precious in his eyes, simply because I belong to him. And so are you.
A Childlike Faith
I’m not sure when we reach the “grownup” stage, when we decide we don’t need a “Daddy” anymore. We tend to forget what childhood was like, how dependent we were, how young and helpless and needy, how trusting and loving and full of awe.
It’s the key to how God wants us to live now, this idea of being like a child in the way we look at him and experience him.
He wants to remind us of who we are to him. Why we matter.
When’s the last time you imagined yourself as a baby in God’s arms? When’s the last time you pictured him holding you and rocking you to sleep? Or calming your fears and anxieties with a soft lullaby? Patting you gently as he dries your tears?
Have you ever imagined it?
Maybe it’s time to start.
Take a cue from little Emery.
Look for your Daddy. And when you see him, grin big with wonder and call out his name.
I’m pretty sure he’ll smile back.