Over 20 years ago, I experienced a thrill that still leaves a smile on my face today as I think about it. Melanie and I have four children, all grown now. The first three all said the word, “mama” before I was ever mentioned. Not so with our youngest. I will never forget the day when Amber said, “da-da.” It was a thrill that I won’t ever forget. She didn’t say “mama” first. She said, “da-da.”
I was lucky enough to have Melanie in the room with me when Amber said it. Otherwise, I’m sure that she would have insisted I was hearing what I wanted to hear. But the truth was that she said it. We both heard her.
Do you remember the first time your child called you by name? Mama or dada is often the first name used to address a parent by a small child. The words have a different connotation than “mother” or “father” – both which sound far more formal. Even the words “mom” or dad” tend to come later, after the child has grown a little. “Da-da.” It’s a baby’s word – a word that has thrilled many a new dad’s heart.
There is a word used in the Bible that is much like the word “da-da.” It is the word Abba. The word is from the language spoken by Jesus as a child. It isn’t the same word that would be translated as “father.” It’s a more intimate word, like a baby would use. It’s an affectionate word – very personal and intimate.
When Jesus spoke to His heavenly Father, He called Him “Abba.” (See Mark 14:36) Throughout His earthly life, that was the kind of relationship He had with God the Father. It was one of intimate, affectionate dependence. Jesus was His Father’s little boy, a Son “in whom [He] was well pleased.” The Father adores His Son. He always has . . . and always will.
Can you imagine having the same kind of relationship to God the Father which Jesus has? You don’t have to simply imagine it. You can know that kind of relationship to the Father. The Bible says that we have been adopted as God’s sons and now cry out, “Abba! Father!” (See Romans 8:15) In Galatians, Paul wrote that “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (4:6)
God the Father isn’t a distant, emotionally reserved, “Father” who oversees your life with an authoritarian, harsh demeanor. He’s more like a doting daddy who laughs with delight over his little baby. Your Daddy is proud of you. At this very moment, He is watching you and thrilled that you belong to Him. I wouldn’t be surprised if He isn’t showing off pictures of you to everybody else in heaven. The point is that He adores you to the same degree that He adores Jesus.
Babies don’t always act the way Dads would like. Sometimes they have diaper problems. Sometimes they pitch temper tantrums. There are times when they just can’t be pleased. They act like babies. But their daddy never stops loving and adoring them. He isn’t thrilled with them because of how they behave. He’s thrilled because they belong to Him!
Who’s your Daddy? The Abba of Jesus Christ is your Abba. He loves you with a love that nothing will ever change. Your birth into His family was neither a surprise nor an accident. He chose to have you as His own child. He dotes over you with a pride and pleasure so big that it can only be contained by a God-sized heart.
So, relax. You don’t have to impress Him. You can just reach up with outstretched arms of faith and cry out, “Daddy!” and He will respond. He always does. He will forever hold you in His arms and eternally declare His love for you. If you listen carefully, you just might hear Him laugh with joy, saying, “Abba loves his little baby so much.”