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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crying, "Abba! Daddy!"

I was 22 years old when I first became a believer. I can never forget the process. The blossoming on the inside of something completely out of my control. Beauty forming within while the hard, scaly exterior was peeled off. (Think of Eustace. Yes. It was just like that.)

I remember the confident, self-sufficient, driven young woman I was, and how firmly I stood with a fist in the face of the world.  I would have my way.

But I was changed. Softened, yes. Refocused. But something else changed too. I no longer was out to prove myself. I remember sensing with great, rich fullness that I belonged to the family of God. I knew myself to be his daughter. I felt his loving, gentle, tender presence and I could feel the envelopment of the Spirit securing me as a child.

My pastor at the time, Mike Massar, was the first to tell me that "Abba" literally translated "Daddy." I call my father "Daddy," and even though he'd prefer I didn't--he began referring to himself as "Dad" a couple of decades ago--I still hold to it. He's my Daddy and I'm his girl. Period. There is something inherently tender and intimate about the term. I won't give it up.

Seeing God as my "Daddy" really was the defining characteristic of our relationship, and in it, I shone. I felt his delight and his loving hand, steering me through the choices of young adulthood. I felt secure, and I felt his pleasure as I took steps dedicated to bringing his glory to fuller expression in this at best dusty and at worst dark and dismal world.

But over the years, the hardships have mounted and I admit, they've been more than I can bear. A few years ago, I fell into such despair that it can be called nothing short of an emotional breakdown. There has been much loss in recent years--loss of ideals, loss of relationships, loss of unborn children, loss of loved ones, loss of focus, loss of confidence, loss of self, identity. And loss of the same type of drive and focus to see the steps for bringing God glory in all things, whether by life or by death. And somewhere in all of that, I lost the sense of being a daughter of the Living God, an heir, a beloved child who brings delight to her heavenly parent.

I miss my "Abba, Daddy." I see Lord over my life. I see Sovereign. I see the Omnipotent One. But I can't find my Daddy in my experience right now.

One week ago, at our evening worship service, our assistant pastor told us that in the book of John alone, Jesus refers to God as the "Father, Abba, Daddy" more than 50 times. (I knew there was some real reason I love the book of John so much.) I kept turning that over in my head. The next day, Monday, July 23, I wrote this in my prayer journal:

"Father. Jesus said it scores of times. Father. Am I your daughter, like the little girl who crawled into my bed last night and I didn't kick her out? She troubled my sleep and took the pillow and blanket, and yet there was no lost patience with her. I kissed her and cuddled her when she came. She was welcome. Loved. Can I crawl up into your lap like that little girl, feel your presence, your safety, your warmth? Can I be with you now and be safer and more secure than anywhere else? Or will you push me away until I am more admissible, more acceptable? Are you just Lord, or are you Daddy too? I need a Daddy who can help me. Daddy, I have a broken heart. I want to tell you all about it. I want to feel your arms reach down to hold me and bind it up. I can't be sure I am obeying you. I don't know if you want me to change or persevere. I need you to show me the way."

Yesterday we decided the summer months were a good time to visit a church I have been interested in for some time. It's an Acts 29 church plant. Visiting does not mean that we will change churches. But whether we do or not, one thing is sure. Missio Dei is where I needed to be this morning. In casual, completely accessible language, the pastor spoke plainly and directly to me today. This is what I heard, six days after writing the above in my prayer journal:

"Be real in your prayers. Christians are the only people in the world who can talk to God just like Jesus did. God is Jesus' father. God is your father, your Abba, your Daddy. Just talk to God like you would talk to your own father. That Jesus reveals God as Abba was revolutionary. The Old Testament had no sense of God as a relational person in such intimate familial fellowship. In his prayers, all but one time, Jesus calls God "Father." Jesus is saying God is the best Daddy there ever could be. He loves and delights in you. He desires and works for your best, your maturity. God is *for* you. Being a child of God radically changes things. You will be held, nurtured, loved, adopted. Ask for what you need. You have a good Daddy, who is able and will provide everything you need in order to return praise to him. When a little child raises his arms and says, "Daddy, help me" he expects his Daddy to do just that--come to get him. We can expect no less."


Daddy, help me. With arms raised, I wait. I expect. Lead me gently by the hand. Show me how to glorify you. Bind up the brokenhearted, the bruised reed, the frightened child. Be my Daddy. I'm crying, "Abba! Father! Daddy!" Your little girl misses you.

5 comments:

MacoMan said...

Often when we experience that "absence" we are actually experiencing His holiness; for He is never anywhere other than totally and completely present in every aspect in every way in all of who you are. It is His Holiness that we find peculiar...like Moses hiding in the cleft of the rock, shying away (in a sense, experiencing an "absence") from the awesomeness of His Person.

--Rebecca said...

MacoMan, thank you for reading and for commenting.
I have never considered that aspect of experiencing holiness before. I know in my head that you are correct about his total and complete presence. He says he is here; therefore, he is here. But to consider that it is his "otherness" that I cannot experience that proves his presence is a totally new thought to me. Thank you for giving me such a perspective to consider.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, beautiful post. Your thoughts are my thoughts exactly. I too was an early believer, beginning when I was 13. I too felt much closer to God when I was younger and now he seems so distant, but I long for that connection again. I guess we both need to think about the poem "Footsteps in the Sand" Are you familiar with that? Basically, it was a story about a man who looked back at his life and saw two sets of footprints in the Sand and then one set disappeared. When he got to heaven he asked Jesus why he had abandoned him? Jesus said "I didn't abandon you, I was carrying you. Those are my footsteps in the sand, you were in my arms the whole time" Believe me, I know exactly the way you feel. And whoever wrote that poem had the same feeling. It is the same feeling Jesus had on the Cross, " Why have you forsaken me?" Anyway, that's the way I feel right now so I understand.

I am posting under Anonymous but just because its easier, but I am Fellow Survivor.

--Rebecca said...

Fellow Survivor, it is GOOD to hear from you here.
Thank you for coming by.

I do know that story, and I often think of it, the trust of knowing he has not left us as orphans, even when my feelings don't match.

There's another entry on here, from a few years back, called Not Forsaken which might also tie in with what you're saying and feeling.

Again--good to hear from you. Thanks for coming by.

--Rebecca said...

That other entry is under September 2010. :)