> Becoming Abbas' Child
term Abba's child means several things. It's an obvious play on my name, which
quite literally means, "Daddy's Jen." Brennan Manning wrote a life-changing book
Child. Subtitled The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging,
the book offers the liberating message that God longs for us to know that He loves
and accepts us as we are. The word Abba in Hebrew is the most affectionate term
for daddy, and regardless of our relationship with our earthly fathers, we are
invited to have a relationship with a Father God who promises never to leave us
or forsake us. This invitation is presented in the person of Jesus Christ, a human
picture of grace.
So what is grace? It's as simple as this: God knows we
cannot live perfect lives so He provided the way for us to deal perfectly with
Since God created us, we ultimately belong to Him,
much in the same way that our children are a part of us. Rather than making us
to be a bunch of robots, God gave us the ability to make our own choices. Like
the educationally-minded parent who offers choices and consequences for different
behaviors, God set a standard of expectation (perfection) and a clearly laid out
consequence for failing to achieve that objective (permanent separation from Him).
Ever since Adam and Eve in the garden, we humans have shown a fondness for doing
our own thing. While we may not feel the effects of our choices down here, we
will be accountable for our actions when we die.
From a worldly perspective,
we might feel a bit like the teen convinced that a non-negotiable midnight curfew
is unfair. From an eternal perspective, God is perfect and can only share eternity
with those who choose to share that holiness.
So, since we know that we
are neither perfect nor holy, where does that leave us? This is where it gets
a little crazy! How many of us would create a plan so bizarre as to require our
child to die in order that someone else could have the opportunity to become a
part of our family? How many of us would allow our innocent son to be held responsible
for the crime of another? On that cross with the Savior so central to Christianity,
hung all the sins we would ever commit. Think about that. When Jesus died over
2,000 years ago, all of the sins we have and will ever commit were future sins.
When Jesus died, so did the power of those sins to separate us from the God who
loves us. The rightful consequence of every white lie, every lustful thought,
every vengeful act was paid in full on that bloody day. The story does not end
with death, however, because the God who created the universe has power over even
the rules that order that universe. After three days, Jesus came back to life,
giving us a graphic example of the extent to which our heavenly Father loves us
and longs to bring us into His eternal family.
With this sacrifice, not
only did Jesus bear the consequences for all our wrongs as if He had committed
them Himself, but for those who choose to accept this gift, He also provided the
lens for His Father to see us as having the same level of righteousness and perfection
that only rightfully belongs to Him.
We might be willing to do something
nice for someone we love, or even someone we like. Sometimes we might do something
because our favor persuades the other to extend a courtesy to us. But how many
of us would sacrifice personally if we knew that our offering would be unnoticed
or unused or unaccepted? Jesus died a horrible death on that cross with the full
knowledge that millions would never even acknowledge His sacrifice. He died simply
to give us that choice.
Jesus Christ is grace personified. As children
of divorce, we have learned to live with loss: the loss of a stable home, the
loss of both parents at the end of the day, the loss of resources that might otherwise
have been at our disposal. We might have felt neglected, abandoned, unloved and
uncared for. That may have been true for a season, however, there is a God who
allowed His own Son to die to make room for you in His family. Our heavenly Father
calls us by name, to offer us a permanent place in His home, access to His vast
resources and an unconditional love that will never let us go.
If you have
not chosen to become a part of this family, please consider making this prayer
I have hurt much in my life. Those who should have protected me
didn't always provide the shield I needed. I have been let down. I have been made
to feel that I was not a priority. I have felt unloved.
I know now that
You have hurt too. I realize that I have hurt You by choosing to do things that
displease You and fail to meet Your standard as my spiritual Father. I'm sorry,
God, and I ask for Your forgiveness.
You, too, know what it's like to have
family taken from You. Somehow though, Your pain was different. You sent Your
Son to die so that I could be a part of Your family. Your heart was big enough
to include me. Thank You. I want to be part of Your family. I want to live my
life in a way that pleases You. I am so thankful that You don't require me make
these changes on my own or as a prerequisite for Your love. I thank You for giving
me a permanent place in Your family; I needed to know I have a place to belong.
Thank You for Your unconditional love; I needed to know that I've never gone too
far. Thank You for sharing Your resources; I needed to know that someone would
provide for me. Thank You for Your faithfulness; I needed to know I am worthy
of commitment. Thank You for this new life, I needed to know there is a purpose
for my pain.