all the time we referenced Him as “Abba,” i didn’t understand. i didn’t understand until meeting my neighbor who doesn’t want religion, my jewish neighbor who teaches her children to call their daddy, “Abba,” my neighbor’s children who adore their “Abba,” a man i have come to deeply respect as a father.

now i have begun to understand what “Abba” meant; i have begun to understand how we slapped a sweet name onto our own fearsome, holy, separate, authoritarian, other God, hoping to talk ourselves into being faithful to Someone we didn’t trust but needed to trust “because He said so.”

But all the time “Abba” was our gentle, fierce Protector, our haven, our strength, our only One who could make sense out of the chaotic world we live in. “Abba” isn’t a distant “God our Heavenly Father -” He is “God with us,” intimately understanding our dust and our childishness, deeply loving us in spite of ourselves, always safe, even if we could not earn His approval.

“Abba” faithfully fathers us, waiting as we try our first steps into His arms, standing steady as we launch ourselves there with the exuberance of youth, holding His heart open to us as we grow older and less willing (but more desperate) to return to the grace in His embrace. i know now how He could never reject us, how “Abba” fights for His children, how He holds us and disciplines us and always works what He knows is best for us.