The Embrace of our “Abba Father”

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:14–16

Am I comfortable calling God “Abba, Father?” I sometimes refer to him as “Dear Heavenly Father.” It certainly shows respect and honor, but feels formal. It doesn’t conjure a personal image of me sitting on God’s lap sharing my thoughts and concerns. Yet, I wonder if God wants a more intimate relationship with me.

I recall my children coming to me when they had a struggle or a dilemma. I could see the tension on their faces as I pulled them onto my lap. With their heads against my chest, they listened to the beat of my heart. As we sat together drawing comfort from each other, they would begin to share their struggles with me. I would hear about the latest fight with their brother, problems at school, or general concerns. I loved those moments. It hurt to hear the world was confusing or cruel, but I was thrilled they trusted me.

Does God want this kind of intimacy with me? Is he pulling me close? Does my head rest against his chest? Can I hear his heart beat? Will he put his arms around me and hold me close so that I feel the warmth of his body? Can I pour out my petty squabbles, fretful worries, and mundane concerns?

Several years ago I asked a group of women to pray for me. I was struggling with insecurities. They offered to lay hands on me as I laid on the floor. Although it was a bit out of my comfort zone, I was desperate and willing to go an extra step if it meant I would find some relief.

As I laid there an image came to my mind. I saw Jesus holding me and singing a lullaby as he slowly rocked me in a maple rocker. I don’t remember if I had been contemplating this verse or if someone suggested to me, but it fit the mental picture I saw. It read, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, italics mine). As I contemplated the image, I remembered my mother had a maple rocking chair that sat next to my crib. She often used it to rock me to sleep.

She wasn’t the only one who sat in that chair. Jesus also has spent countless hours in that maple rocker holding me close. He has sung songs of hope, victory, and love. He has told me that I am his own child. And, he has reminded me that one day all my pain will be wiped away when I finally come home to meet him face-to-face.

The mental picture I had that evening wasn’t just for me. It is for all of us. God is our “Abba, Father.” Right now he is urging us to draw close to him and find comfort. His arms are thrown open as he urges us into his embrace. He has already begun to sing a lullaby. Can you hear him? He is singing songs of love, hope, and comfort.

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