why i like to call Him “Poppa”

I used to hear preachers claim,

The most important thing about you is what you believe about God.

My mental response was always, “Of course it is! I believe in God.”

But the view from here was of a supreme, all-knowing Being who looked down with a stern, wizened gaze. Never smiling much or laughing – at least not in my direction. Some days I knew He must sigh at my failure. Other times I was convinced He was shaking His head in disappointment.

So, every now and then I’d picture a loving father who cherishes and smiles on me in delight, but it was quickly overshadowed by my fear of disappointing Him.

Maybe my warped view of God stemmed from messages I heard preached all too often – the ones that focused on getting right, loving more, serving better.

Or maybe it was my own heart’s fault because it knew I could never measure up to His holy standard no matter how hard I tried. (And, boy, did I try.)

Or maybe my misconception came from the Father of Lies who would love nothing better than to make me doubt that God is good. (Just ask Eve. It was the first and best lie, and it works so well he’s never stopped using it.)

Most likely it was a combination of all three.

But I couldn’t shake the mental image of a stern Supreme Ruler who, though He sent His Son for me, was now having second thoughts because “she can’t get her act together and keeps messing things up.”  I sometimes wondered if He was sorry He saved me because I wasn’t really worth the trouble after all.

Until grace.

God pierced my soul with a love arrow more potent than anything Cupid could concoct, and my heart burst wide open from the sheer force of that love.

He LOVES me.

He loves ME.

HE loves me.

That’s what grace does. It opens our eyes to a God who loves us because of Himself and in spite of ourselves. We can do nothing but fall down in amazement and worship.  

As I started learning to rest in Great Love, I found Romans 8:15,

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

and I knew I wanted to call Him something besides “God.” I wanted a special name that went beyond the former picture of “stern cop.”  

A name that meant “daddy” (what Abba means) but didn’t have other memories associated with it.  

“Poppa” seemed to fit just right. 

Since then I’ve called Him “Poppa” to His face, and each time I say His new name, I think one more time that He’s my furiously loving Father, and I’m His forever, beloved daughter.

Janna, Grateful Daughter

P.S. What mental image appears with “God?” Or do you have a favorite name for the One who loves you more than life?


1 comment

Wow Janna, this really touches me how you describe your view of how you thought God saw you – and then the turn around to seeing Him as loving Poppa. HIM loving YOU.
That’s a Grace arrow of love for sure right to your heart. I rejoice with you in the freedom and release you’ve found. Those lies sure can get us, right?
For me I started out seeing God as loving me and then lies crept in and I fell for them. My view became one of sure I’ll make it to heaven but the only thing I’ll be able to do there is dust the corners and thinking that there won’t be dust in heaven I thought God would find some just for me. How messed up! How sad too. Until … the love arrow pierced me too and I realized I was accepted and cherished by my Abba. I am not afraid anymore.
As I read how fear and lies took over you tears streamed down my face because I know that is such a devastating place to be.
Thank you Father for helping us see how you really are. And for allowing us to feel safe calling you by a name that is close and personal to us.