The Abba/Papa God

Siena's Grandpa

Jesus called his Father, “Abba,” which I’m told loosely translates to “Papa,” and suggests the familiar, loving, gentle daddy. I have trouble relating to God the Father, not having known my own dad well, so I think about a grandpa, instead.

The grandfather I was closest to was often called “Papa Joe,” by the younger grandchildren. My mother’s father, Grandpa was an ideal image of Abba/Papa God. On Sunday mornings while Grandma was creating the heavenly smell of crispy bacon, Grandpa would sing and lift me onto his shoes so we could dance together. He was a blue collar worker who rose early each morning and worked his shift, not to further his career, but to provide for his family. Grandpa was a family man.

Granddad, my father’s father, came over early in the 20th century from “the old country” and worked to make something from his nothing. By the time I came along he owned a ranch, a dairy, and many rental apartments and houses. In his case I was one of the younger grandchildren that didn’t know him long enough, but I know he worked constantly to make a better life for his family. Another family man.

So I like to think of God as a family man. Someone who lets His children climb into His lap or dance along with Him in His joy.

I’m understanding that image even better now that I’m a grandma. I really do try to enforce and respect my daughter’s rules for her daughter–though for some reason Siena comes to me when she wants sweets–but grandmas aren’t about rules. We are about loving unconditionally. We aren’t as stressed and tired as parents, not bearing the brunt of responsibility, so not as worried about doing things right. I think we are more able to simply enjoy our grandchildren.

I like to imagine God the Abba/Papa looking at me the way I look at Siena. I’m so delighted by her! I know in spite of her two-year-old tantrums she is absolutely loving and lovable! When she raises her little arms up to me and waits, trusting I’ll pick her up and hug her, love surges in me. And God, the source of all love, is 70 times 7 more loving than I. How can we doubt He feels the same delight when we reach up to him? Abba/Papa is always ready to lift us up to dance on His shoes.

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