Moses answered, “I will tell the people of Israel that the God of their ancestors worshiped has sent me to them. But what should I say, if they ask me your name?
God said to Moses: I am the eternal God. So tell them that the Lord, whose name is “I AM”, has sent you. This is my name forever, and it is the name that people must use from now on
Exodus 3:13-15, Contemporary English Version
When I was a younger woman, I was in love with a God named Jehovah. Even after typing that name, I sit and think about all the love and hate I have for that name. I love the God that that name was to represent. I hate all the pain and suffering that the people that bore his name caused. But the name has strength, has purpose, and most importantly is a name.
With my return to the Church, I have started making steps toward restarting my relationship with ….
Hmmm… I am having a hard time with what to call Him now. I can’t and won’t call Him Jehovah. At this point and time, that name seems beneath my Eternal Lord. It is a name that the cowards and predators hide behind. It is a name that brings to mind megalomaniacal men and desperate, alienated, and blind followers, mostly women. Women who considered second class, washed up after a certain age, left to knock on doors in hopes that would make them righteous enough to seen fit to marry. It brings to mind the worse in religion and speaks nothing of discipleship.
But to have a relationship with someone, especially a close relationship, one needs a name. It is woven in the traditions and customs of having any kind of relationship with someone. When we first meet someone, we ask their name, we buy things because of the name of the product. We name drop, hoping to link our name with the reputation of the other name. When we marry, the woman takes the name of the man she has committed herself to. When we are close to someone, we even give them special names to demonstrate what we think of them and signify how close we are to them.
I didn’t know what to call Him. And this is a problem, because of all the years I spent worshiping and loving Him. He is very real to me, but I found that how he was represented was false. He was not a power mad, women-hating tyrant that wants to scare us into blind obedience. He isn’t an invisible cosmic bully. He loves us. He wants us to desire Him as He much as He desires us. I want to be close as I once was, but with this God; not with the God of the past. The name I called Him before does not live up to that.
So what do I do? I do what any girl who wants a relationship does, starts thinking about a special name for Him, one that means something to me and signifies that special bond that we have.
What do I call my husband and other men that I am close to?
(The theologians in the audience know where I am going with this. I swear- If you sick James Barr on me, I will cut you!)
Abba is Hebrew. In ancient times, it was translated “the Father” and is the main given to the Father of the Triune God. In modern Hebrew, it means “Daddy” (I think I hear a collective theologian cringe… it pleases me) and I want that kind of relationship with God… a love that is as close as a woman can have with someone without getting messy… or weird. A pure, loving relationship based on trust and truth.
So You are Abba. That is your name forever and what I will call you from now on…