These titles, and many more, draw up a wide, tumultuous range of emotions for us. Each, in its own way, suggests a level of intimacy and connection, a unique blending of two lives in a relationship of impact and personality development.
Did you know that the names for God do the same thing? Each name that God gives himself describes his personality and his actions, therefore changing our perception of him and our reception of him. His name transforms the incomprehensible concept of deity into concrete terms.
Yes, he’s called father. “God the Father” to Jesus and an adopted father to us, his “children.” But what if the name father means nothing to you? Or what if it means something awful, something cruel, judgmental, or ambivalent? Then how do you grasp this idea of heavenly fatherhood? How do you connect in prayer and faith with a person you can’t see, can’t hear, don’t know, and can’t control?
Who is God the Father to you?
He is Shalom (Peace) to the anxious, Olam (Everlasting) to the doubtful, Shaddai (Almighty) to the weak, Jireh (Provider) to the needy, Roi (Sees) to the unseen, Nissi (Banner) to the faltering, Raah (Shepherd) to the wandering, Tsidkenu (Righteous) to the sinful, Elohim (Lord) to the follower, Maccaddeshcem (Sanctifier) to the guilty, Rapha (Healer) to the ill and broken, Yahweh (I AM) to the faithless, Shammah (Present) to the lonely.
God has been Shammah to me, a girl who grew up without any father and wondered what it would be like to have one. I hoped my dad was watching me from heaven, feeling proud. I imagined God was like my dad–sitting in the clouds thinking, “What a nice girl she is,” but not able to be present in my life.
And then God spoke “Shammah” in my ear. “Jehovah Shammah–I am the God who is present. I am here.”
Here for Father’s Day. Here forever. Always here. That’s why He can promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Josh. 1:5)
I’ll bet God the Father has a name just for you. And I haven’t even touched on the names of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (SO MUCH to find out!) So, if you want to learn God’s character while you pray, try praying God’s names back to Him. Check out the Navigators’ site for 30 days of praying God’s names or get a book on the Names of God and read it. You could also do a Google search–there’s a ton of information out there.
God is a perfect Father who wants to give and love and protect you. (John 15:16). He can only be himself. The question remains, Do we want to know him as he truly is, or do we prefer pigeon-holing him into a God we can ignore?
image by Vera Kratochvil