Abba is the dad you can go to for anything at any time. That’s God’s Father name to remind us to be little kids as we come to Him rather than the big complicated adults we try to be for those that come to rely on us. And I am learning to come to Him as a little child–with everything, for everything.
But someone, a dear friend who considers himself “crusty” and “bizarre” and “peculiar” [which, by the way, has a good connotation to my Sunday School kids!] and a host of other words I need to look up before I try to use them: this dear friend reminded me of another side of God–the nKoko side. Apparently “nKoko” is a word from an African tribal language that means “gentle grandfather.” And, for as much as I need an Abba Father, I need a nKoko, too.
What is a nKoko like? well, he’s gentle–he somehow manages to speak truth in a way that’s not at all harsh but makes you think to yourself “yes, that’s what I have known all along but was on the verge of forgetting.” And he’s a grandfather–taking outrageous delight in His grandchildren. To Him they are celebrities, though not in a “show-them-off” paparazzi kind of way. He’s just delighted to see them when they arrive. And they like to see Him because they feel comfortable around Him, even though they couldn’t explain why if they tried. But somehow He gives them the feeling that everything is going to be ok and that they are ok just as they are.
Now, I know that no earthly grandfather is exactly this way anymore than any earthly father is the perfect Abba. But every once in a while someone or something makes us feel this way, reminding us that it is possible to feel this way. And it makes us long for God down deep in our soul.
No, I don’t know the Hebrew or Greek name for God that corresponds to this simple African name, but I know that anything good has its roots in God’s nature, so someday I’ll find where in the Bible this term has its equivalent. Until then, I’ll think of God as my Heavenly nKoko as well as my Abba Father.
And I’ll thank God for the “crusty, peculiar, bug-loving German” who reminded me of this side of God.

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