Our Mother-Father God

Jan Antonsson

Shrine of the Book 2

The Shrine of the Book Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

December 2, 2017

Neosho, MO

“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you-never” (Isaiah 49:15, The Message).

A while back, in one of his excellent meditations, Fr. Richard Rohr referred to God as our mother.  That really struck a chord with me because for decades, I have thought of and referred to God as my mother.  His meditation was affirmation for me that I’m not alone in thinking and feeling this.

How it came about for me to think of God as my mother, I suppose, is that my relationship to my own mother was confrontational most of the time.  The main source of conflict between us was who was going to tell me how to live my life.  After receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, it was abundantly clear to me that Jesus meant what He said when He told the disciples shortly before his death, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7, RSV).  I’ve forgotten the Greek word translated counselor there, but it means “one who stands beside you.”  Better, yet, Paul said the Spirit lives within us (Romans 8:11).

The reason this is such glorious news for us is that, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-15, RSV).  My mother truly believed that she was the best one to guide my life.  She was a good person, a Christian woman, and surely I needed her guidance when I was small, but once I became a grown up, I put away childish things, to paraphrase Paul.  That was the root of the friction between us.  

God, on the other hand, is always welcoming, unconditionally loving, gentle and nurturing to me. He has guided me throughout my life, even before I realized it was He who was doing it.  He protected me from bodily harm, supplied my needs, loved away my fears, and held my hand as I walked through 6 long years of being a single parent, until by His grace, He brought Lenny into my life. He has continued to be a superb, caring, loving and protective mom, who was also a fabulous, all-powerful Abba (daddy).

About 30 years ago now, Harry Fox and I attended a gathering in Thousand Oaks, CA, in which the speaker was discussing the names of God.  He said that El Shaddai means “the many breasted one.  That struck me forcefully at the time though I didn’t consider the full implications until a bit later. The Spirit leads us into all truth, but sometimes it seems to take a while for the message to get through.  When I read Fr. Rohr’s meditation, I remembered the meeting with Harry, and the thought began to percolate that I would be writing on this topic.  However, I couldn’t embrace it fully; something was holding me back from writing.

Later, in a phone conversation with my sister about our mother, I was recalling that she had warned me that if I EVER criticized her in my writings, she would “make me very sorry.”  After getting off the phone, I realized that it was mother’s warning that was holding me back from writing.  It wasn’t conscious but there it was, nonetheless.  About the time this awareness came, God said to my heart, “Don’t worry.  She won’t slap your face when you walk through the gates.”  That’s one reason I love Him so much.  In addition to all the other attributes He has, He is also very funny.  He gets me through and through.  I laughed at the way He said it, and realized that He had swept all the impediments away and I could now write about something that has been so dear to me, so important:  God really is my mother.

I Googled El-Shaddai (www.myredeemerlives.com/namesofgod/el-shaddai.html): The Hebrew word “shad” or “shadayim” (meaning “breast” or “breasts”) occurs 24 times as Shaddai and signifies One who nourishes, supplies, and satisfies (Isaiah 60:16, 66:10-13)….”When combined with “EL” it would refer to YHWY (Yahway) as the One who mightily nourishes, satisfies, protects, and supplies His people. El Shaddai is our all sufficient sustainer.  It is EL who helps and it is God as “Shaddai” who abundantly blesses with all manner of blessings.” End Quote.

On one of our trips to Israel, we were taken to The Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. It is a museum which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, Isaiah’s writings found by a peasant boy while exploring the caves in the hills above the Dead sea.  They are displayed under glass for protection.  Before we entered the museum, our guide asked, “What do you think the shape of the museum symbolizes?” (Picture at the top of this writing). It looked like a sombrero to me, but the Jewish architects surely didn’t mean that.  After we had all guessed incorrectly, he said, “It is fashioned after the form of a mother’s breast, because God’s word is nourishment to the soul even as a mother’s milk is nourishment to her infant.”  That pretty much affirms the idea of God as our mother, don’t you think?

Isaiah loved God so much and was given the gift of expression so that he could speak of God’s unending love for Israel, which is symbolic of all the rest of us.  The prophet said of himself, Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name” (Isaiah 49:1, NIV).  He quoted God as saying,  “See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Vs. 16).  Being engraved on the palms of His hands is so special, so personal and intimate, so unforgettable.  

Throughout the Bible, God led His children, protected them, and supplied their needs. Before he left them, Moses told the children of Israel and the Spirit tells His children today,It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV; Hebrews 13:5). 

Father, You who flung the sun, moon, and stars in the black void of space, created this beautiful blue-green planet on which we live; You who called each of us from our mother’s womb, we thank You that You are both Mother and Father, You are truly our all and in all. Open our eyes to see You as You are, that we may be like You.  We join our voices with “the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” Amen.  Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

Our writings from 1997-2010 are on

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