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Rev. John Jude

Psalm 42: 'Pa Pa, I want you'

A significant event in the life of Jesus is recorded in Luke 5:21-22, his baptism. Jesus approaches John the Baptist at the Jordan where he has been preaching and baptizing.

Jesus comes to be baptized and John is reluctant. Instead he says Jesus should baptize him. John eventually yields to Jesus and baptizes him. But what happens during that passage about the baptism catches my attention.

Jesus was in the water. The passage says that he was praying and the heavens opened up and the spirit of God descended in the form of a dove. God spoke, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."

Can you imagine that happening when you pray?

I don't know about any of you, but I wonder often what Jesus could have said in that prayer that got that kind of response. I wonder because we are given formulas for prayer. Some give positions to pray in that the giver assures will get an answer from God. For instance, some teach to pray the Word back to him and God is obligated to answer. Others say to pray lying prostrate on the floor or to pray with your hands lifted up. Pray on your knees with your eyes closed and God will answer, others teach.

As I ponder this passage, I think I have found the answer in my grandsons, Jaylen and Jaden. Jaylen started doing something a while back that helps me understand this passage. Often when he could not see me, or did not know where I was in the house, he would call my name, Pa Pa. I would answer, "Yes, Jaylen, I am here." He would come to me and say, "Pa Pa, I want you." The first time my response was, "OK, son, what do you want?" His answer knocked me off my feet. "I want you." He did not want cookies or ice cream or candy but he wanted me.

Jaden, on the other hand, is only 1 and cannot talk yet. But he is a master communicator. He will find me in that house even if he has to climb the stairs alone to do it, and when he does, he just reaches up and utters a baby sound. I know that Jaden, like his cousin Jaylen, is saying, "Pa Pa, I want you."

They climb into Pa Pa's arms and rest there. No worries, no problems because they are safe in Pa Pa's arms. They are confident that Pa Pa loves them more than anything. They just know that when Pa Pa is there they can rest easy. They are confident that if any need arises Pa Pa will meet the challenge and fulfill their need.

I believe that more than any words that day, more than any prayer formulas, Jesus simply uttered, "Pa Pa, I want you" and God responded.

Psalm 42 records these words by the Psalmist, words we can say, too: "As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God."

It's another way to say, "Pa Pa, I want you."

The Rev. John Jude, pastor of Pleasant Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Athens, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns for THE DAILY. For more information, call Melanie Smith on Tuesdays or Wednesdays at 340-2468.

Rev. John Jude Rev. John Jude

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