by Dale Reeves
Pastor of Creative Content
A few months ago my one-year-old grandson Luke clearly called me “Pop” for the first time. He was in his play yard, just chilling a little bit after my wife had fed him breakfast, but before he would go down for his morning nap. “Pop” was not my designated name of choice when people asked, “What will your grandkids call you?” I have been calling myself G-pa or G-paw, or when trying to get Luke to say it the past few months, I have pronounced it “G . . . . . pahhhhhhhh.” (“Watch my lips very carefully, Luke, and repeat after me.”) “G . . . . . pahhhhhhhh.” Kind of fits my Soul Train persona, don’t ya think? Similarly, my wife thought she might be called Mamaw, or maybe Mimi or even Gigi. Luke wisely chose “Mamaw” which sometimes comes out like a southerner might say, “Meeeeee-maw!”
I grew up with one very formal“Grandfather” who was a farmer in Maysville, Kentucky, and one very informalsouthern down-home “Papa,” who resided in Carrollton, Georgia. When you think about the big G up in the sky, what do you call him? You may use a very formal name for God, or a very informal and intimate name—but no matter what you call him, I would urge you to call out to him on a regular basis. We see a number of the names for God in the Old Testament—names like El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Nissi, and Jehovah Shammah. And while there are many facets and character traits that comprise our understanding of our unfathomable God of the universe, at the end of the day, he just wants us to call out his name!
In Psalm 40:13, David the shepherd boy who would one day be king, cried out, “Please, Lord, rescue me!Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (NLT).
All the way back in the eighth century B.C., God sent a prophet named Joel to communicate these words, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lordwill be saved” (Joel 2:32, NLT).And this promise from God is repeated several times in the New Testament.
All throughout the Bible, this idea of calling out to God when we are in trouble is prevalent. David was famous for getting himself in trouble, hiding in caves, fleeing from the enemies who pursued him . . . or just trying to watch sheep in their “play yard” and not doze off to sleep.
In the midst of the redemption process of Saul (who became Paul), God sent a man named Ananias to him while he was still blind from his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. After Ananias placed his hands on Saul and God restored his sight, Ananias said to him, “Now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16, NIV).
Part of Paul’s process of being saved involved calling on God’s name, believing in him and renouncing his past sins—and being immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins and to receive the Holy Spirit working in his life. Ananias told him that Jesus had sent him so that he could see again and that he could be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is God’s Holy Spirit that marks us, and makes us live differently. As we learned in this past week’s sermon, the Holy Spirit works in our lives healing us from the inside.
First Peter 3:21 tells us, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (ESV). When we decide to follow God out of obedience to his Word, being baptized is a part of that process because it demonstrates that we are “appealing” or “pleading,” or “calling” out for rescue.
When Luke calls out “Pop” to me as he’s waking up from an afternoon nap, he lifts up his hands to be rescued from his cage—his Pack ’n Play. Guess what I do when he calls out for me? I quickly oblige. Luke can call me whatever he wants as long as he calls for me to be there with him. I thought I understood more about God’s character when I became a dad for the first time. But now that I am “Pop,” I get it even more.
Jesus referred to God as his “Abba, Father.” The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that communicated a close, intimate relationship between a father and child—one based on affection, confidence, and mutual trust. The big G in the sky is most definitely all powerful, the Creator of the universe, and yet in the midst of his majesty and greatness, he still wants us to know how much he cares for his children.
What about you today? Anything you need to be rescued or saved from? Is God calling you to be immersed and receive the gift of his Holy Spirit in your life? What do you need to tell Abba, Father today? He’s not so concerned with whatname you call him as he is that you do call out to him.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke these words: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV).
He cares. He stands ready to pick you up. He’s ready to rescue you. He wants to save you. He’s waiting for you to call out his name.