The baby is going to be 11 months old soon. Her language is really coming along. Just today I made a list of some of her words (some she even does the sign for):
Finished/All done (sign only), Ball, Up, /G/ (hard g sound) means Go, Bub-bo (bubble), and Ni-ni (means night). Today she started saying Ya-ya and Daaa. She's also got some all-purpose sounds. "Ba" in the playroom means "Get my ball"; "Ba" in the kitchen means "I want my bottle" and "Ba" in the kitchen while pointing to the fruit basket means "I want another banana, for the 3rd time today." (What can I say, the girl knows what she likes.) And "baaaaa" with extra A's on it means "sheep sound." Thankfully, she hasn't learned "No!!!!!!!" yet. (Give it time, right?) And, apparently, the word "Bapa", her favorite sound, means "Everything else under the sun."
Observing the baby change her words over time from just sounds to whole words has made me think about how the language I use to refer to God has changed over time. Has yours ever done that?
When I was little, God was simply "God". The big, bearded man who lived in the clouds, and my Sunday School teacher said He loved me, but God was too far away to have much to do with me.
Later, I heard about God as "Father". Which, honestly, didn't appeal to me. My idea of fathers was what I knew from 1950's tv shows..they went to work, came home and smoked a pipe, mother brought their slippers, and the only time they really got involved in family life was if The Beave was setting something on fire or Timmy was really down a well.
As a teenager who wasn't much into church, my image of God was as a punisher, an angry, just God who was waiting to catch me doing something wrong. Hardly someone I wanted to run to for help, so I pretty much avoided Him, except for an occassional prayer for Him to give me something I wanted.
At 17 I became a Christian. Then God became Cool God. Buddy God. All of a sudden He was interesting. I wanted to find out about this Jesus I had never really heard about before. I found out that it wasn't all about religion, it was about relationship.
But God still didn't have a personal, close name that I wanted to call Him. There still seemed to be a distance between God and I...and I knew that it was up to me to come closer. It wasn't until I went through a crisis last year that I really started to want to know who God is. REALLY is. I got a set of CD's by Joyce Meyer on The Character of God, and another set on The Names of God...and started to get to know Him better. He is El-Elyon,The Lord Most High;El-Shaddai, The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People;Jehovah-Jireh,The Lord our Provider;Jehovah-Rapha, The Lord our Healer; He is JEHOVAH (YHWH)...and so much more.
But none of those quite fit what I was searching for.
Then one day I did some study on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and it hit me-- Jesus, who was closer to God than anyone-- what did he call God?
"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Jesus called God Abba. And then I found it again in Romans:
those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba,Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
And I realized...THAT'S the kind of relationship I want with God. To consider myself His child, as Jesus did. To be able to cry out to Him, "Abba, Father"-- the aramaic word for Daddy. THAT'S how close I want to be to God. As close as Jesus was.
Its still in its developmental stage, this relationship is. I'm still learning about how to be closer to my Abba God, to think less of Him as the remote Father in the sky and more of Him as the intimate, loving Abba who cherishes me. But, like the baby who makes improvements every day with her language, I too am on my way.