Is there anyone who hasn’t experienced the joy of seeing a child hold hands with mom and dad and gloriously swing between them? Gracie is a big fan of this game. Any chance she finds herself in the middle of Doug and I she says; “Let’s play ‘1-2-3!’”And we are obliged to lift her into that glorious swing. Not too long ago Gracie and I were walking together without Doug. She was holding my hand and said “Mama, 1-2-3!” When she jumped in the air she didn’t get quite the lift that comes when Daddy is on the other side. Then she looked up at me and in a sad little voice said; “Awww, Mama, we need Daddy.”
I can’t tell you how many times those words have echoed through my mind since I heard them. I look around the world and I see so much brokenness, so many people- children and adults- who suffer from having no father, or having one they were wounded by because he did not live up to what a father ought to be. I recently saw this car with the “cartoon family portrait” on the back window: Mom, kids, pets- and in the spot where “Dad” ought to have been was an “X” with the hand-written note saying: “Open Position.” I thought this captured the truth of what so many suffer—that blank space—the “X”— the “Daddy shaped” hole in the human heart that longs— no, NEEDS to be filled. Unfortunately, so many of us wander around the world letting that space remain empty, and our souls continue to hunger and cry out. We are children who long to be wanted… We need Daddy.
When Gracie was 2 years old she went through a night-mare phase. She woke up many nights crying over and over… “I want my Daddy.” No one else could call her father out of his slumber but his little girl. A child who wakes in the night can cry out “Daddy” and find Daddy there to hold them, to rub their back and whisper love and security. The Bible says: by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16) The Bible tells us we are God’s children. He is “Abba.” For those who are not familiar with the term, in Aramaic and Hebrew “Abba” translates to a more intimate form of “Father.” Some say it is a less formal endearment, almost akin to “Daddy.” God is both the formal “Our Father” to whom we are obedient, and look to for discipline, guidance and provision, but He is also our “Abba,” the intimate “Daddy” in whose arms we can always find comfort, protection, love and affirmation.
For those of you who grew up with “good Daddies” this is probably an easy illustration to understand. But for those who have “Daddy issues” this is a tough one. I’ve heard many people say we first relate to God in the way we relate to our earthly fathers. If our own father was distant and uninvolved, we believe that is God’s character. If our earthly father broke his promises and couldn’t be trusted, we find it hard to believe a heavenly Father would keep His promises or could be trusted. Maybe you had an absentee Dad. Maybe you had an emotionally unavailable Dad. Maybe you had a judgmental, harsh or critical Dad. Maybe even an abusive one. That makes this metaphor hard to grasp, and because of that we reject it. We reject Him. But, you see, we do “need Daddy.” Even in all of our efforts to deny it or rub the significance of “Dad” out of our culture, the human heart still longs for Him. What we fail to realize is how the One True Father is longing for us, has chosen us, and how when we are adopted by this Father, it changes everything!
Ephesians 1:4-5 says: For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…. I am amazed by that thought. We were chosen before the creation of the world! We were chosen to be adopted by this extravagantly loving father… we are wanted and loved by a Father who is always there and longs to joyously swing us in His arms from glory to glory while healing our hurts, holding us in our pains and rejoicing as we swing to new spiritual heights.
If you are reading this today and you have never really known or trusted God in this way, I would suggest that maybe it’s time to meet this Father. This Father is like no other. He is more than just the formal distant “Father” whom we are expected to obey. This Father is not distant and uninvolved. He knows every detail of our coming and going right down to the number of hairs on our head. This Father keeps His promises. He is trustworthy and true. He is not emotionally withdrawn from you— He hears your every anxious thought, weeps with your every tear and reaches for you at every cry in the night. His arms are open and available at any hour. He is the Father who rescued and adopted our orphaned souls and who longs to hold us in the riches of His love.
You know, adoptions are costly. People lay out thousands of dollars, they put their financial resources, their time resources and their hearts on the line just for the opportunity to give a new life and hearts full of love, a new inheritance and a new legacy to a child who in some cases they have never met. As soon as the adoption papers are signed the status of that child changes forever! One moment they were an orphan belonging to no one, and in the next they are someone’s child. If you would just look and let your heart soften, you will see even if you had an earthy father reject or fail you in any way— this Father wants you and will never fail you. He wants you more desperately than any parent wanted a child. He’s adopted you at infinite cost to himself. He gave up his very life so that he could give you a new life, a heart full of love, a new inheritance and a new legacy. And as soon as you are adopted by God your status changes! Everything changes! Every void can be filled, every affirmation given, every fear stayed, every longing for the need of “Daddy” contented. When you accept the Lord Jesus you are made His very own child and nothing can change that! Nothing can take that away from you. No lies of the accuser, no beating back by the din of our culture, no stress, no pain, no illness, no fear, no bad day… Nothing can separate you from the Father’s love.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
When we deeply know how much the Father loves us that changes everything about how we live in the world. Instead of living with an empty space of desperate longing and defeated hearts, waiting in vain for the “open position” to be filled, we live in victory like children who are wanted and loved. This is a life radically different and amazingly rich! But it can only happen when we invite Him in to fill that empty space. Then we will find ourselves joyfully swinging in his hands from glory to glory. Invite Him in to fill that space in your heart. Whether you are 7 years old or 77 years old, you do “need Daddy.”