“Papa, Can You Hear Me?”

I am not a fan of Barbara Streisand, but I do like the movie Yentl. In the 1983 movie, Ms. Streisand plays the role of Yentl Mendel who is a Jewish girl that disguises herself as a boy to enter religious training. Because of her great desire to learn the Talmud, Yentl sings the song, “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”

Below is the first verse and chorus:

God, our Heavenly Father
Oh, God and my father
Who is also in heaven

May the light of this flickering candle
Illuminate the night the way
Your spirit illuminates my soul

Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?
Papa, can you find me in the night?

Papa, are you near me?
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you help me, not be frightened?

Now can you see the Apostle Paul singing these words around A.D. 62 as he writes the book of Ephesians? I find it hard to imagine that he broke out in song as he wrote even though he did do it in a jail cell. But I digress… Someone has said, “The purpose of prayer is not to inform God of our needs, but to invite him to rule our lives.” In Ephesians 1:15-23 we read of Paul’s great desire that the Ephesian church grasp the glorious riches of grace bestowed upon them. So much so that it drove him to his knees.

In verse 16 Paul states, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” This group of Believers was in Paul’s prayers on a regular basis. Note: In the 1st Century A.D. you walked most places, so you had a lot of time to pray as you walked. But why does Paul pray for the church? “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”, verses 17-19a. Paul wants them to experience the full measure of grace bestowed upon them at salvation.

Now is the spot where Yentl breaks into her song, “Papa, can you hear me?” Thus, making Ephesians a musical. Her strong desire to learn the Talmud to become a better Jew engulfs her and she realizes that she cannot perform her studies alone. She “throws” herself musically to her Heavenly Father asking for his Spirit to illumine her soul, i.e.: the eyes of her heart. Paul here is beseeching God to illumine our hearts so that we fully see the hope, the riches, and the greatness of our Heavenly Father. And why? Verse 19b-20, “According to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” The very same power that raised Christ back from the dead resides within us (see Romans 8:11).

On a Sunday in either March or April (depending on the year) we celebrate Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. The fluff is baskets, bunnies, and egg hunts. But the real celebration of Easter is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew tells us his version of the Resurrection as, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Did it ever occur to you that if Christ had not risen from the grave, our lives would be in vain because he would have told a lie. Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 15:14. I like how Luke, a Greek doctor, tells us what the angels said to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women; “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” Even they had to have a memory jog!

The riches of our salvation is found in the completed work of Christ. It is through him that we can truly have a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Whether you choose to speak it to him, write it to him, or break out in song to him he wants us to draw close to him. His Son came to us in our sin, lived a life pleasing to his Father, then finished the work he was sent to do on the cross. All so that we can lean into our Papa’s embrace on a daily basis and enjoy true victory.

Grace and peace, James.

*Scripture from ESV, Crossway Publishing, 2001

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