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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dad...

Did you ever stop to consider the way various people address God?  I have been around some pretty "staunchly" religious people who continually refer to him as "heavenly father" or "God Almighty".  Yes, he is both, but these terms actually describe a kind of formal and rigid relationship with God.  If I had gone around responding to my dad with "Yes, father" all the time, it would have been like I was saying, "Sir, yes, sir!"  I would have been treating him merely as an authority figure in my life much in the same way I treated my commanding officer in the military!  Indeed, God is the authority over my life, but I don't want to approach him as the "big authority in the sky" kind of God.  I think God intends for us to have a more intimate, or close relationship with him.  He doesn't want us to treat him like our "bestie", but I do think he wants us to be comfortable calling him "Abba" (daddy). 

So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory. (Romans 8:13-17 VOICE)

My dad had authority over my life while I was growing up, and as I grew older, making a way in the world for myself, he was still in that place of authority in my life.  Why?  It wasn't something demanded, but something I fully gave him because I trusted him.  I knew he wouldn't ever deliberately bring harm into my life and I totally trusted him to always show me how much carefulness he took in protecting me.  Right up to the day my dad died, he was protecting me one way or another.  In his prayers for me, he put a shield of protection over my life.  In going with me to the car dealership when I needed to buy a new car, he protected my finances and helped me make a safe, wise car purchase.  In showing me how to use a few hand tools, he prepared me to keep things in good working order in my life.  He was always looking out for me - something I know he learned from Jesus!

When we invite Jesus into our lives, we are inviting him to take over the care of our lives - to be in a position of authority.  When we walk with him each day, learning how he moves and operates in our lives to provide that protection "over" us, we move from just submitting to him as an authority to enjoying his presence in our lives.  The Spirit of God comes into our lives, securing us from the "authority" of sin, and begins the work of helping us to know we are no longer bound to the past way of living, but enter into a new place of liberty and peace. In turn, we come to understand God's watchfulness and protection "over" our lives - much like an earthly dad acts toward the children he loves.  There is a tendency to press in a little closer and to trust him with the stuff which makes life complicated because we know he only has our best in mind.

Did you ever stop to consider that through the simple prayer of calling out, "Abba!  Father!", we were not only addressing God as one of his children, but in those simple words, we are confirming deep inside our inner man that we trust him as a child trusts their father?  In life, we look for strategies that will give us some advantage, don't we?  Trusting God so much that we move beyond treating him as "master" or "Sir God" in our lives is one way for us to move from simply "being in the family" to enjoying our position as one "under his protection".  It is sometimes easier for us to see all the commandments of God (do this, but don't do that) and treat him as an "authority over our lives" than it is to see his promises, recognizing him as the "protector of all aspects of our lives".  We may not be comfortable calling him "daddy", but we can call him "Abba".  They mean the same thing!  In so doing, it is like we are "cementing" a sense of trust - we are leaning into his arms and counting on the sensing of his presence to guide us through whatever may come our way.

Calling God "Abba" is not magical, but it helps us to connect with the heart of our heavenly father in a way which shows we understand he is always going to be concerned with providing whatever it is which will protect his child.  It signifies we understand the privilege of being his child, so much so that we are learning to trust him to assist us in abandoning the ways of the flesh which gave us so much trouble in the past.  It shows we are willing to tell him where we are struggling and then trust him to help us understand that struggle until we understand how it is we abandon it and take a different course.  God isn't going to "enforce" his role as "daddy" - he waits for us to move from treating him as just "an authority" over our lives to the one whose heart is always turned toward protecting us at every turn.  Just sayin!