For several years, I was involved with an evangelistic ministry where teams of brethren would go into an extremely depressed (economically), local neighborhood, in order to offer a lunch and the Gospel to those who lived there. There were some who lived outside, year round, in the wooded areas, even in the dead of winter. The sights and smells are forever burned into my memory. The accounts of some of their lives and how they ended up there had taught me how blessed I really am. Whenever life becomes a little challenging, I just remind myself about those experiences. Over several years of evangelizing there, I had gotten to know a few of them pretty well.
One person I had gotten to know pretty well was a woman named Candice, who lived with her boyfriend Harry in the woods in a make shift tent. Harry was a Jehovah’s Witness, or at least he was raised as one. He never talked much. Harry was usually in the tent, buried in piles of sleeping bags, out cold, sleeping. Candice, however, would always talk. She would always share stories about living on the streets and she revealed to us many little secrets about how to survive. One example was that Candice would actually bury her belongings in strategic locations all over the area, because thievery by local gangs and other homeless people was rampant in their world. Maintaining her network of hidden supplies was a full time job.
I’ll never forget the first time I had met Candice. She had told me about the sad reality of her childhood. Candice had been raped by her father when she was only eleven years old. Her telling of this horror was absolutely stunning to me. I had never imagined that something like that could actually happen to a little girl. We’ve all heard horrifying stories such as this, but to actually look into someone’s eyes as they told it is quite moving.
As stunning as this detail about her life was (normally such would have left me absolutely speechless), I had become compelled to not remain silent, but to share with Candice that those who repent and trust in Jesus Christ have then gained the privilege of referring to God… as their Father.
I remember her cocking her head to the side… in almost puzzled amazement… as a tear ran down her cheek.
For the Christian, the concept of God being our Father is, I think, one of the most powerful aspects of the Christian walk. Paul encourages us (Christians) by reminding us of this beautiful reality:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
“Abba” in Aramaic means “daddy”.
Have you ever really stopped to think about that? We (Christians) not only can, but should, refer to the Creator of the universe as our “Father”; especially when we pray. Here is Jesus teaching the disciples how to address God, when they pray:
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.””
John Calvin once described what prayer is by offering an analogy using the concept of fatherhood:
“Prayer is like climbing into your father’s lap and giving him knots that you cannot untie.”
I urge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to always keep in view that God is our “Abba” Father. What a privilege we have been given…
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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