God as Savior, Friend, Daddy & Husband

For the first 28 years of my life, any desire for obedience to God stemmed from the idea of “should.” I should go to church. I should tithe. I should read my Bible and pray daily.

Unfortunately, “should” fails to stand up well under the desires and emotions of the flesh. “Want” provides a much stronger motivation than “should.”

Around age 28, the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus blossomed in my thinking. I already believed He died for my sins, but I never realized He wanted friendship with me too. My friendship with Jesus fulfilled a long-held, deep need inside of me for a loyal and encouraging friend who refused to give up on me even on my ugliest of days.

About 7 years after this paradigm shift, the realization of still more came into my awareness. Not only did God send His Son to die for my sins and save me from eternity in a fiery pit, and not only did Jesus desire a best friendship with me, God also wanted to fill the daddy void in my life.

While I never doubted that my earthly father loved me, I felt like he loved me because he “should.” His lack of involvement in my life left a void – a hole in my little-girl heart – that impacted me more than I realized for many years. One day about 6 years ago, God filled that void. I crawled into His lap and let Him father me in a way I had needed for so long. He became my Abba Father.

Savior. Best Friend. Daddy. Desperate needs fulfilled by one Holy God.

four words

But there’s still more…

“And it shall be, in that day,” says the Lord, “that you will call Me ‘my Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘my Master.’” (Hosea 2:16)

The idea of calling God “my Husband” seemed quite strange at first. But as I experienced the unconditional love and acceptance, the encouragement and devotion of my earthly husband, I began to understand that this most precious earthly relationship provides a glimpse of the relationship God desires with me.

This relationship with my husband comes only after 20 years of trials and struggles, hurts and offenses. It comes through humbleness, forgiveness, courage and faith. Only because of wilderness times and times of seeming barrenness of hope can my marriage now flourish.

This same wilderness experience also taught me about God’s work in my life to draw me closer to Him as well as to increased intimacy (a word we’ve really misconstrued) with Him. Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers says it this way…

“God doesn’t impose the wilderness on us; instead, He puts a desire within us for His higher purpose, and so He allures us into the wilderness. We weren’t asking for the wilderness; we were asking for more of Christ. But God knew the wilderness would be the place where we’d gain more of Christ.” (Chapter 3)

Because of my earthly view of intimacy and my warped vision of what marriage “should” look like, getting to the idea of God has my husband fails to come easily. Yet, the recent growth of abundance in my own marriage after a long period in the wilderness opens the door to yet another paradigm shift, yet another dimension of the complete person of God.

“During the season of dryness and confinement, the Lord transforms our relationship with Him from Master/servant relationship to that of a Husband/wife relationship. God intends the prison to awaken deep bridal affections for the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Sorge, Chapter 3)

Because I experienced Jesus as Savior, I could then see Him as my Best Friend. As my Best Friend, the idea of Him also fulfilling the role of Daddy became possible in my thinking. And now, because these aspects of who He is exist as foundational realities that drive my faith, the shift of thinking to Him as Husband has begun.

And in this change in my thinking about God, I wonder if finally the impetus behind my obedience will now permanently move from fear and “should” to one of love and a desire to please Him.

DISCUSSION: How has your view of God changed over your lifetime? What do you think about the idea of a Husband/wife relationship between believers and God?

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other active participants include Dusty, Glynn, Joell, TC and Rick. If you know of others, please leave a link for their post in the comments.

24 thoughts on “God as Savior, Friend, Daddy & Husband

  1. Kari, I think you've touch on a really important discussion. We spend so much time trying to fill the voids left by lacking relationships. God wants to fill every area of our lives with Himself. This happened for me after a lifetime of people-pleasing didn't work, and a major rejection left me a mess. Once I allowed God to fill the void in my relationships I enjoyed true freedom for the first-time. Excellent post!

    • As you probably realize, understanding that God can and will fill every area of our lives with Himself, that He is truly all we need, comes from trying and failing to fill the holes in us with anything but Him. It's the process of giving up idols and defeating pride. True freedom comes when we let Him fill us in, when we let Him define us. Thanks, Deb!

  2. Kari,
    I guess I have a tough time with "daddy" and husband based on my internal definitions. I want a relationship that is close with God and one that is without pretense on my part. I want it to grow deeper and be fulfilling and not one sided.

    • Our internal definitions – those created by culture, conditioning, etc. – really do impact how we see God. I guess that's why we need scripture to help recreate those definitions and base them on His truth. We certainly can't deny the connections that Scripture makes with God being our Daddy or with the church (us) being His bride and He the groom (husband).

      • I do not disagree I just cringe sometimes when I hear someone refer to God as daddy or papa and I know it is me not them that has a problem. Those terms seem to casual for me with not enough reverence. It does go back to how I define those terms in my heart. I need to work on that.

        • They are actually uncomfortable for me too. Calling God "Daddy" is uncomfortable because of the informality, and that's certainly not what I was taught growing up. It's also uncomfortable because of the wrong view of what a "daddy" should be based on my earthly father. Calling God "Husband" is uncomfortable I think because of what our culture has done to the word "intimacy." What we define as intimate is not how the Bible defines it. So, this redefining is the start, but it's hard to change that lifelong conditioning. Trusting God on this one.

  3. I love this Kari and I totally know what you mean. My earthly dad died when I was 17 and I was lost and I was angry at God. Through years in the wilderness I came to see Him as my Friend, and I never doubted God was my Savior, even when a prodigal. Then I realized I could have the perfect ABBA, Daddy, the one who would NEVER leave me or forsake me and I embraced it totally. After 2 difficult marriages I have found myself at times holding my hubby's hand and thinking of the song, "Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee". I feel that loved, but I had never thought of God as my husband, even though I have a book in which I am called His beloved. Thank you for sharing this. I say ABBA with all the reverence it deserves, for HE is an awesome and perfect God and I will never deserve all the blessings He gives me, the love, the care, or the promise of eternal life with Him forever.

  4. It's really cool to see how God has changed your perspective and relationship with Him over the years. I like how John Piper puts it, Christian hedonism, that is to say God gives us joy and pleasure in our relationship with Him if we allow Him to. Way too many Christians go around with an attitude that says "I'm doing this only because I have to".

  5. At first blush, I was a little jolted at your comparison to God as a husband (that feeds into many men's power trips!) And I was afraid it might be somewhat blasphemous. But when speaking to Israel, God himself often used the spousal analogy. It's not to diminish his glory or holiness, but a tool to help us relate to him. After all, he created the marriage relationship and its a shadow of a relationship with Him

    • You got my point exactly, David. While it’s uncomfortable to think of God as “Daddy” for many, scripture clearly indicates His role as Abba Father. And while it’s especially uncomfortable to think of God as husband, especially for men & especially in today’s culture, we can’t deny the many scripture references indicating that this is the type of relationship that is His goal. It definitely helps us relate to Him, especially as we align our definitions with His truth. Thank you for your honesty in being uncomfortable with this idea. I am too.

  6. My perspective and understanding has changed so much over the years. Like many, I held false assumptions about God, how He operates, and why He does things. I certainly wouldn't claim to have it all figured out now, but I have a deepening revelation of His grace, love, and glory that I wouldn't trade for anything. He's so good to reveal Himself to the hungry and seeking heart! Thanks Kari.

    • Living an life pursuing God is so awesome, because He does reveal Himself more and more to us as week seek Him with a sincere heart of faith and a desire to be obedient. And as we honestly seek Him and let Him erase those false assumptions, we become more real and who He meant us to be. This is such a fantastic journey! Thanks, Jason!

  7. It is awesome how God wants to fill up every place in us, every need we have for a savior, friend, father, and husband.

    Jesus came to set us free from the "shoulds" and to have a relationship. I was reminded of Galatians 5:1…and Jason mentioned it in his post today as well…about Christ coming to set us free and for us to stay free from the yoke of slavery aka the Law aka the "shoulds". My desire to do the things you mentioned, tithing, going to church and reading His Word and praying, now stems from a desire to please God and love Him the way He has loved me. It now comes out of a heart of gratitude, not because I think I should. Not because I have to check off a box. That perspective came over time and with my own realization of who Christ is and His nature. Of course, I am always learning more about Him and how He loves me. 🙂 It is so cool how He has revealed Himself to you through the years.

    • Yes, it definitely is awesome! The perspective of motivation out of love vs. motivation out of merely obeying the rules makes such a huge difference in the freedom of our lives. God knew that, and that's why Jesus stressed the importance of love over all other things, especially the law. The learning never ends, for sure, and I am continually amazed and the new truths God continually shows me. I simply love hanging out with God!

  8. As I've gotten older my view of God has changed as well. When I became a mother I realized the unconditional love of Father God. There's nothing I wouldn't give me son (as long as it was in his best interested). That really gave power and confidence to my prayers. God is a dad and dad's love to give to their kids.
    I also learned more about God through the death of my earthly father.
    We can learn so much about who God is through our personal relationships with others.

    • God definitely teaches us a ton through our earthly relationships, and knowing this takes them to a whole new level. God amplifies every part if our lives but especially, I think, our relationships where love grows.

  9. So many good things here in both the original post and the comments. For me, God as Creator doesn’t yield to God the Father who then in turn yields to yet another aspect, as all of them co-exist simultaneously. I’m the one with the limited imagination and difficulty adjusting viewpoints, not Him – but as a guy, I still struggle with being the wife, even if I *do* handle a lot of the housework in this life 🙂

    • The co-existing simultaneously is a good point for sure and one that is important to keep in mind when learning more about who God is and what He wants to do/be in our lives.. Our limited imaginations at least give God a lot of room to grow us & show us His creativity. I imagine that the husband/wife relationship is more difficult for men to accept than women. Maybe bride/groom is helpful? Not sure.

  10. I think it's tricky to talk about God being our husband/wife. I think not only is the relationship with God really different, but I think then also God can subtly be set up as in competition with our husband. Not that I think everyone is going to do that, but I think it is a definite danger I see presenting itself a lot – particularly with young, single people.
    That being said, it's interesting to think about how my own relationship with God has changed over the years. I, too, went from a "should" relationship to an emphasis on the personal, loving relationship with God. Then, he's moved more and more into a counsellor and teaching role. And there's also many times where I stress his lordship and kingship over my life.

    • Yeah, it is tricky. If it weren't for the references in scripture about the church being the bride of Christ, I'm not sure the connection could be make solidly. My main point was to say that our earthly relationships can teach us so much about who God is and also that He can truly meet all of our needs. Interesting point about competition. Maybe what you're getting at is why Paul says it's better to stay single if you can but to marry if you can't control your flesh. The progression of our relationship with Him is one of the most exciting aspects of this faith walk. Because of how it's progressed in the past, I am excited about how it will progress in the future.

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