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An Ode to My Dad

by April Pryor

A few years back, several families in our community started teaching their kids to call their dads “Papa”.  If I remember correctly, this was in response to the “sonship” concept and wanting to help our children deepen their identity as a child of God, him being our Father.  It was very foreign to me to call a dad “Papa” as that is what my children call one of their grandpas “Papa” which is even one more layer removed for me. So, I just observed it and felt no conviction to do the same…I understood what they were doing and that was cool, it just didn’t transfer over to me.  As I’ve thought of this off and on, I always thought, “Well, I would just start to teach my kids to call God ‘dad’….what they already call their earthly father.”  But, since I don’t do that myself, it never really went much further than that.  Anytime I started to think about it, I began to realize that it was striking a cord of some kind and I would force myself to stop thinking about it.  Like, it was to intimate to think about….don’t go there.  You see, I have a VERY special place in my heart for the word “Dad.”  It’s reserved for Don Seely and NO OTHER! As a teenager and young woman, that place in my heart was held dear and no man was going to come near it. When I got married, I “inherited” an amazing father-in-law, but he’s just that, the father to my husband, not my “Dad.” As a new bride, anytime I became confused between the role my husband and father played, my father would often win out in my heart. God, to me, is Father, Sprit, Son, Jesus, Savior, Creator, Lord I can even try to think of him as Lover and Groom, but NOT Dad.  I have slowly realized that this is a place in my heart, a very intimate, precious place, that I have withheld from God. Why? Because it just never occurred to me? At first perhaps. Because He doesn’t deserve it? Yes, I think that’s why.

In my recent spiritual life, I have been begging for more of the Spirit.  I see all over the early church in Scripture that people were getting baptized by the Holy Spirit, people were speaking in tongues, getting saved, getting baptized with water, then getting baptized with the Spirit.  Although the concept of the spirit is a 10-year-new concept for me, I still feel like I haven’t experienced what I’m reading in Scripture.  I don’t feel lonely, I know He’s right by my side and has  plan for me and responds to me and loves me and is even pleased with me (as I’ve heard from others speaking words over me.) But, I started to want more.  MORE Lord!  More Spirit please!  I want more Spirit!  I told Him I don’t care how, or what it looks like, I refuse to put Him in a box.  I trust Him and will leave it up to him to show up to me in a way special to us. I can’t rely on myself to get through this life, to face my days that are full of me.

One day, as I was in a place of quiet with Him, I turned my iPod onto shuffle on my worship playlist and on came this song….one of those kind of annoying 14 minute long spirit-led worship times caught on tape that you can only listen to when you’re in the right mood.The man was singing “I’m like a baby, like a baby, saying ‘dada, dada, dada’. Help me Lord, I’m saying ‘da—-da, da—–da’ Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! The Language of heaven.”  As I listened, something in me broke.  I started crying like a baby and allowed the words to wash over me and opened my mouth and started singing along with this man.  At first it was really hard, even just to say “dada.” And then, I was singing it out at the top of my lungs! “Dad!!!!  Dad!!!! Dad!!!! Dad!!!!!”  Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you.  This was a very profound experience and I found it too intimate to even speak about with anyone. I meditated on it for a few days.  Couldn’t even journal about it.

A few weeks later, at Story-Formed Life, we were midrashing this passage: Galatians 3:6 “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”  Woah!!  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  There was the Spirit I had been begging for!  I held on to His arm long enough to allow His Spirit to penetrate me to prompt me to call out “Dad! Dad! Dad!”  So, does He deserve that title? Yes, because He adopted me.

What a tribute to my earthly Dad.  Thanks Don Seely, for making and being such a special place in my heart, that once I discovered it, boosted me into a new level of faith with my first Dad.  You have stewarded me well.

The other night, I was having a very sweet heart-to-heart with my only son, where he was sharing some of his deep struggles with me. We concluded that we needed to take these issues to the Lord and without taking a breath, he broke into prayer saying, “Dad, I need your help…….”  I just stared at him as he confessed and cried out to his dad. I was a speechless onlooker of the Spirit mixing with a young soul, fathering my son, prompting him to cry out “Abba!”.  Jeremy, you have stewarded Jackson well.