Who’s your daddy

My personal journey to know Abba Father, elder brother Jesus, and constant companion Holy Spirit is ongoing, very much a present-tense process. Every day I get to know him a little bit better. Every day he shows me himself  better, and also myself better – ways in which I should and can grow and mature.

He tends to change my thinking, change my agenda and change my itinerary! He always leads me to understand his ways better, and also to understand the ways of others better.

He shows me the world in all its complexities, both natural and spiritual, sometimes taking me behind the scenes to see what is really going on. That is sobering and at times I would prefer to avoid it. Necessary to intercede, he tells me, I’m right here, don’t be afraid.

Every day he is more fascinating to me, more terrifying, more affectionate, more… just more. The following was written years ago, as I tried to explain to puzzled friends my love for Daddy God.

BettyAndDaddyDowntown1944When I was two years old, I knew my daddy, in some ways. I knew him as a photographer, as mama, brother Harold and I were his frequent subjects.

But I didn’t know him as a WW II veteran of the US Army Air Force. I didn’t know him as an airplane pilot or airplane mechanic, small engine repairman or insurance salesman.

I didn’t know him as a brother, uncle or son, or as a husband, son-in-law or brother-in-law. I didn’t know him as a house painter, screen door fixer, lawn mower, or light-bulb replacer.

I didn’t know him as the recovering alcoholic who sponsored other men struggling with that addiction themselves. Or as a banjo player, barbershop quartet singer or ballroom dancer. Yet he was all those things, to other people.

To two-year-old me he was just a marvelous big creature who loved me. He was a smiler. A carrier-on-the-shoulder. A hugger and tickler who got down on the floor and played baby dolls with me, or wound up the wobbly spinning top for me, over, and over, and over.

He let me climb up in his lap when he was trying to read the newspaper, and he’d read the funnies out loud to me. He was a food taster who offered me little bites of his grown-up meals. He was a goofy “mareseatoats” song singer and a “once upon a time” story reader.

Betty and mama, 1944

Betty and mama, 1944

Sometimes he pointed that square box at me and called, “Smile,” which I probably did most of the time. I still have the black and white prints to prove it.

I didn’t really understand the definition of father yet but I knew the word daddy. And I knew my daddy, in all the facets of my two-year-old personal relationship with him, limited though they were.

A few years later I knew my daddy as mama’s best friend, who would dress up in a fancy suit and necktie and go somewhere with her, who herself was dressed up in a frilly dress and high heels. Off they’d go to some place I couldn’t go. Baby sitter time.

He was the chauffeur to any places we went as a family, the bill-payer when we went to the movies or out to eat, the final declarer of the absolutely perfectly decorated Christmas tree, the slow present opener who (like so many other gentleman of his era) used his pocket knife to carefully unstick the scotch tape and avoid tearing or wrinkling up the wrapping paper.

I also knew daddy as occasional nay-sayer and occasional deep thinker. Can I, daddy, can I have that? might result in long moments of deep thought before daddy’s well-meditated “no” answer was forthcoming, complete with reasonable, logical explanation. Only in cases of youngster temper-tantrum threats did he resort to “because I said so,” but if daddy said so, it was so.

In my pre-teen years I got to know daddy as a good tic-tac-toe player, Chinese checker player and monopoly player. I got to hear him play his banjo and sing four-part harmony.

HMotte@SanbornHotel0001Daddy’s camera and tripod were never far away. He took this shot of himself in the lobby of the Sanborn Hotel in downtown Florence, probably during one of those “dress-up” occasions with mama.

I also discovered that mama and daddy weren’t always in perfect agreement – sometimes they had slightly loud discussions, at least that’s what they called them. Not yelling, not arguing, not fighting, but discussing points of view that sometimes clashed. I never listened and therefore I have no clear idea what those differences were all about. It’s probably just as well. (Conflict between them disturbed me greatly, they knew it and so those disagreements usually took place out of my ear-shot.)

In my early teens, I began to know daddy as the family bread-winner who sometimes couldn’t work, who was suffering from service-related heart disease, caused by rheumatic fever contracted during WWII. He died of a heart attack when I was 16 years old.

I never got the chance to know daddy in all the many adult roles other people knew. A few people have shared with me over the years about daddy as their friend. He was a valued friend to many. My mother never really recovered from losing her best friend, lover and husband, and I never really recovered from losing my daddy.

Over the years I have come to realize that daddy was a multi-faceted personality, including a multi-faceted father to my brother and me. I knew him, but not as well as I would have liked, and the opportunity to know him better ended for me in 1960.

But I have another daddy! God the father – Abba, daddy – who I also know, though not as well as I would like. That opportunity is still open to me, and I want to learn more and more about the many facets of Father God’s personality, and my relationship to Him.

Not just know ABOUT him, the way I know about my earthly daddy from relatives and friends, I want to KNOW him. I believe He wants that, too.

Why bother

I don’t read the Bible like I should. I mean, not every day, not in an organized manner, and not as long as I should when I do read it. I was admitting this to the Lord while driving this morning and asked him a couple of questions.

First, why don’t you make me want to read the Bible more than I do? And second, why should I read it more, anyway?

I was a little surprised that he answered me right away, although he does that often enough that I shouldn’t have been surprised. Here’s how the conversation went.

“Think about language. Like English, your own native language. What is it?”

Hmmm. Okay, what is it?

“It’s a container by which information in one mind is transferred to another mind.”

Okay, I get that.

“By reading scripture, information in God’s mind is transferred to a human mind.”

Okay, I get that, too. But we don’t need to continually read the Bible for that, do we? Can’t we hear your voice and know your mind without reading the Bible over and over? (Meaning, I’ve read it quite a few times in the past, isn’t that enough?)

“Yes, but the Bible is not only a container, it’s a step above a container. Without the Bible, you wouldn’t be able to tell if the words you hear come from God’s mind or some other mind. Would you?”

I guess not.

That was the end of the two-way conversation but the beginning of a longer meditation.

I have read the Bible many times in my lifetime, in several versions. Not all the way through, Genesis to Revelation in any set plan, but when studying a particular subject, particular book, or particular person. And while I do remember a great deal of what I have read in the past, I don’t have total recall. Wish I did. From time to time I have to look up some verse in a concordance to remind myself where it is.

Usually when I sit down to read a chapter or so, I find myself getting sidetracked within just a few verses. A couple of months ago I decided to read Daniel all the way through but found that practically impossible for me. Names, places, times – there were way too many fascinating temptations to do research, look up cross-references, other passages, other books.

I’m not sure I have ever finished reading the book of Daniel, not completely. Somewhere along the way I wound up in the book of Matthew, then Revelation. Once in a while I go back to Daniel and read a little more.

And along the way, having the author comment on what I’m reading is like having Shakespeare by my side to explain his plays, only much, much better! Sometimes the Holy Spirit will nudge me to read something specific, or just tell me point blank where to find a verse.

This morning as I meditated, I reminded myself of all that and decided, it’s worth reading the Bible for that experience.