One of my earliest memories as a child is of walking hand-in-hand with my father to and from kindergarten. I would have been three or four years old at the time. My most precious memory of childhood is my father taking a whole day off to be with me when I was ten years old. We took the boat across from Guernsey to the smaller island of Sark where we rented bicycles and explored the island together. To have my Dad to myself for an entire day demonstrated his love for me more than words could ever do.
In taking a day off and suffering a journey in a small boat (I am the sailor in the family, my father is not) followed by a day on the saddle Dad entered into relationship with me in a way that went beyond the normal father/son arrangement. This typically takes the form of: “Me father, you child; you do what I say, how I say, when I say, and we’ll get along just fine.” Nearly half a century later Dad and I are still in relationship. I know he loves me and he knows that I love him. We talk often and I am deeply grateful to my father (and my mother) on many different levels.
Jesus used the name Abba (literally Daddy) when crying out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane. Paul used the same word in his letters to the Romans and Galatians. In the passage in Galatians Paul refers to men and women as ‘children of God.’ If we are children of God we need to carefully consider our relationship with God.
Some of us may struggle with the concept of a father/child relationship with God. Perhaps some have had bad experiences of being parented? Perhaps it is that relationship seems diametrically opposed to what we understand about worshipping God? Perhaps we have never properly considered how God desires His children to be in relationship with Him? I have more questions than answers but I do know that if one day of my life spent with my earthly father cycling around a small rocky island could mean so much to me then I need to think about how God is there for me not just on one day, but everyday. In doing so I find myself challenged about the need to be in relationship with God and what shape that relationship should take. I am challenged because it is a relationship in which I need to participate more. It is a relationship that I need to understand better. It is a relationship that quite simply needs a lot more input. Not from God, but from me.
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:4-7 NLT)