When Your Toddler Knows Your First Name

1 john 3-1



“James on the phone.”

“Yes, Daddy is on the phone.”


This is the back-and-forth conversation my two-year-old son and I have been having.

Over the summer, he mysteriously figured out his dad’s first name and started using it.  We’re not exactly sure how this happened.  He just started saying, “James” out of the blue.  We didn’t teach it to him.

So, for about two weeks it became:

“James on the phone.”

“James at work.”

It was “James” this and “James” that.

I kept correcting him and it took him time to understand that “Daddy” and “James” are just two names for the same person.  But while lots of people might call him “James” only a few people get to call him “Daddy.”

And, two-year-old children don’t get to call their dads by their first names.

Besides that, “Daddy” is the personal name, the relational name.  It’s not just about what is technically on the birth certificate or what anyone can call him whether they are stranger or friend.

“Daddy” shows the privilege of intimacy, position and belonging.

And this matters, not just when we’re talking about family, but when we’re talking to God.

Why would my son choose “James” when he has the privilege of position, the right to call him “Dad?”

Why would we choose distance when God offers us His very presence?

Sometimes, that’s what we do, though.

It can creep up on us so stealthily. One morning we realize we’ve been calling God by formal names and keeping the conversations “all business” instead of making it personal.

Perhaps we’re like Israel out in the wilderness, heading out of Egypt after the grand and glorious displays of God’s might.

Usually, we say that God brought them out of Egypt so He could take them to the Promised Land.

But that wasn’t God’s first intention for His people.  Instead, He took them to Mount Sinai to meet with them.

As John Bevere writes in Drawing Near:

Remember God’s words to Pharaoh, through Moses, “”let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert” Ex. 7:16 NIV). It was not “Let my people go, so they can inherit a land” (p. 4).

But at the foot of that holy mountain, they knew their sin stood in the way.  They could never survive the presence of the Holy God, so they told Moses,

Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say, and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’ (Deut. 5:27 ESV).

Instead of drawing near themselves, they sent in a go-between, an intermediary. Moses could hear from God and tell them about it later.

If only they’d been prepared for His presence. If only their hearts were pure and made ready.

Instead, God said,

“Return to your tents” (Deut. 5:30 ESV).

John Bevere says:

How God’s heart must have broke, and how heavy was Moses’ heart as he returned….God brought them out of Egypt for one reason—to bring them to Himself—and they missed it” (p. 75)

I don’t want to miss it!  When God brings us to Himself, may we be ready to go up, not sent back down to tents far from His presence.

Or maybe we’re like Martha in the New Testament, who allowed busyness, stress, and too many distractions from too many worries keep her from the feet of Christ?

Maybe it’s that we fear what God will ask of us.  Like the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10, we think we want to be with Jesus, but then He asks us to give up position or power or possessions or habits or relationships or plans and dreams.  And the choice is harder; we want God, but do we want Him more than everything else?

Or perhaps it’s the slow drift, drift, drift of our hearts, worn down by the daily grind, where time with Him is duty and not delight.

Or maybe our hearts are tender and bruised with disappointment because even though we know God is good, and even though we know He’ll never leave us, we’re hurt.  Prayers weren’t answered the way we hoped.  Expectations weren’t met.  Dreams didn’t work out.  Healing didn’t come.

So, we cradle our hearts with a wall of self-protection, not just from others—from God Himself.

But here’s what Scripture promises:

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1 John 3:1 ESV).

We are His children.  His beloved.

That means relationship.  It means repenting. It means talking it out when we’re hurt. It means choosing to trust.  It means drawing near and knocking down walls.

And He allows us, invites us even, to draw near, to call Him “Father,” to call Him “Dad.”


Take Heart, Daughter

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,'” he said, “your faith has healed you”
(Matthew 9:22).

My daughters believe their daddy is a superhero with an amazing super power.  He can fix anything.  For years, they have brought me broken toys and pages ripped from books and announced that it was okay because “Daddy could fix it!”  They stand amazed as he pops wheels back on plastic strollers, adjusts the height of swings, and, even more impressive, repairs our broken dishwasher.

Then there was the day that my daughter, then just two years old, came to me, her hands outstretched and holding a DVD split completely into two separate pieces.  Her tiny fingers gripped something totally irreparable.

“Oh, baby,” I said, “It’s broken.  Really broken.”

“It’s okay,” she announced with confident faith, “Daddy can fix it.”

“Most of the time, sweetie, but not this one time,” I whispered.

We’ve all experienced the limited fix-it abilities of others and ourselves.  We can apply glue to relationships and duct tape to careers, we can piece together finances and snap hopes and dreams back into place after countless cracks and rips.

But then there’s the day—we’ve all had those moments—-when we grip in our fingers something irreparable.  No amount of gluing, taping, splicing, snapping, tying, pinning or sewing can undo the damage, fix the broken or resurrect the dead.  Not this time.

So, we bring what is diseased and dead to the God who has power over life and death. My commentary says: “Life in this world will be better if it is lived by a power beyond this world, the power of the resurrected, ascended, glorified Christ.”   We live in resurrection power when we trust Him even in the midst of impossible, overwhelming, hopeless circumstances.  We hold up to Him a mess of shattered pieces and declare, “Abba, Father, My Daddy can fix this.”

Because we know He healed what no one could heal.  Because we know He created a universe, a planet, and life with the power of His Words.  Because we know He even conquered death and overcame the grave.

Just like the woman who had bled for 12 years pushed through a crowd so she could touch Christ’s cloak.  For twelve years, she had been walking dead.  Her sickness made her unclean and cut off from community life, from marriage relationships, and from the ability to worship in the temple.  She shouldn’t have been in the crowd, wasn’t allowed to have contact with people for fear she would spread her uncleanness to them.  Her very presence there was risky.  Anyone could have condemned and publicly shamed her.

My husband reminds me that her story is one of salvation.  Her healing foreshadowed the cross as she transferred years of uncleanness and impurity onto Him with one touch.  He absorbed her uncleanness.  She now, for the first time in 12 years, was made clean, purified, holy, new—–once she was lost, but now she was found.  Then she made public confession when she, “knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:32-33).  Yes, the whole ugly truth of it all.

Our own redemption stories all echo hers.  Christ miraculously fixes what is unfixable.  He assumes our guilt so that we may receive forgiveness.

There’s something else, here, though, something about her faith that I need to learn.

Her healing didn’t happen by accident, an unexpected brushing against Jesus in the middle of a mob.  No, she had to decide to push through the crowd; she had to choose to reach out a shaking hand to grab the dusty hem of His robe.

So, it is with us.  We could stand on the outskirts of faith, not truly trusting God to heal and redeem us, but we would remain broken. Maybe we feel insignificant, maybe our problem doesn’t seem big enough or maybe it even appears too big for God to handle.  Regardless, until we bring the pieces to the throne and lay them at His feet, we cannot expect healing.

This reaching out for Jesus wasn’t just bold, it was also full of hope when things seemed hopeless.  “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26).  Doctor after doctor, remedy after remedy, year after year, medical bill after medical bill, all leaving her now destitute, hopeless, and still bleeding.

But then our compassionate Savior reassured and comforted her, not just fixing a physical problem, but speaking peace into her fearful heart: “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you’” (Matthew 9:22).

There’s a message for you also in the broken places.  God asks you to “take heart, daughter.” Don’t despair.  Don’t give up hope.  Bring your burdens to Him.

What is it about her faith that healed her? She believed so much more than that He was a medicine man with some effective healing aura.

She believed He could give her new life.
She believed He could remove her impurity and make her clean again.
She believed He would not condemn her for approaching Him in all of her dirty unholiness.
She believed she could come to Him just as she was.
She believed He could bring hope to the hopeless.

Her faith made her well.

Then, she gave testimony to what He had done and announced to the crowd of onlookers that Christ had healed her.

Are you facing brokenness or losing hope? “Take heart, daughter,” and trust Him with the impossible.

And when He has delivered you, fall at His feet in worship and give testimony to His grace. Tell “the whole truth” about what God has done for you.

If you have not received the answer yet, pray for that testimony.  Pray for the glory of His name.

Pray that you will be like the captives brought back to Zion, “who were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126-13).

Lord, fill us with laughter, fill us with joy in these circumstances.  Allow us to declare, “The Lord has done great things for us.”  Give us a testimony for Your glory, so that we can be a walking display of Your healing, resurrecting power and Your deeply compassionate mercy and love.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:20, MSG).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Christian Blog Topsites