And a voice from heaven said,
“This is my beloved Son,
and I am fully pleased with him.”
Matthew 3:17 NLT
I haven’t heard people share misinterpreted song lyrics in awhile… maybe it’s because we have YouTube videos with lyrics on them now. No one has to guess anymore if there’s a “bathroom on the right” or a “bad moon on the rise.” We even turn the subtitles on when we watch movies now. Sometimes when I’m having conversation in real life I wish there were subtitles. This is especially true when I’m talking on the phone or having a “WHY did you play American Ninja Warrior in the living room again?!” conversation with my boys.
But – and I’ve never told ANYONE this – there is one time I’m deeply glad there are no subtitles.
Here it is: In the Bible Study groups I’ve been a part of, a very common way to begin a prayer is by addressing God as “Heavenly Father.” However, people rarely just say it; they let it heave out of them in a big exhale, as if they are horribly exasperated or at their wits end. It usually sounds like this:
Out loud: Okay everyone, let’s go to God in prayer together!
*Huge long inhale noise through pray-er’s nose*
Riding on exhale: “Emily’s Father, we come to you today with…”
My Internal Dialogue: What?!?!?! Did he just say Emily’s Father?! Why did he say Emily’s Father?! We’re praying… Oh wait… he said HEAVENLY Father.
It happened about a dozen times (not exaggerating) before I started to become comfortable with it. Then, I remember reading the account of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus (Matthew chapter 3) and realizing that my ears weren’t quite so far off!
In Matthew 3, John baptizes Jesus and, immediately after, this happens:
“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.'” (Matthew 3:16-17 NLT)
Can you imagine seeing that?! And that’s the subtitle text – that’s what God actually said. But what you don’t read until later is that, because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection, we are ALSO his beloved sons and daughters, who he is fully pleased with.
He is Emily’s Father.
And, and, and!!!!!
Your name‘s Father, I’m so thrilled that you know just how to speak to us in ways that make us laugh and understand that you care about ME. How is it possible that the God of the Universe lets ME be his daughter and that you are fully pleased with ME?! Thank you for impairing my hearing just enough to hear your voice. Amen.