There has been much talk since the mid 90’s on the Father heart of God. I am so glad of that as a Scot! Scottish religion has been very harsh at times and the truth that Jesus taught, namely that the Father warmly and affectionately loves us, is one that is often met with unbelief or incredulity by Scottish minds and hearts. Though we are a country with a rich heritage in God, we also carry much religious baggage, not all of it helpful or good, which often results in the warm love of God bing pushed away when first encountered either in the preaching of God’s Word or by direct experience of the Spirit.
I am sad however, that in the renewed and much needed emphasis on the Father heart of God, there is often not a full Scriptural telling of that truth. There can be a tendency to fall into sentimentality as the dominant ambience in which the Father’s love is presented. The witness of the Scriptures is much fuller than mere sentiment and warm glow, though as I say and stress Abba’s love is indeed warm, it is indeed affectionate. Our Heavenly Father is not cold or harsh or austere. But, when we are assured of the Holy Spirit of God helping us to cry “Abba Father” in Romans Chapter 8, the tone of the language used there might be imagined like this: a small child has fallen on the street, and is crying out to their Daddy not to be left alone, but to be helped; a crying out from a fearful place or hurt and woundedness in faith that Daddy can be trusted. Despite the faith, the tone is one of anguish and distress.
Rowan Williams is quoted in “Celtic Daily Prayer Book 1, The Journey Begins,” in similar vein; I commend that book to you, as a resource you might like to try:
“The Cry to God as Father in the New Testament, is not a calm acknowledgement of a universal truth about God’s abstract fatherhood. It is the Child’s cry out of a nightmare. It is the cry of outrage, fear, shrinking away, when faced with the horror of the ‘world’ – yet not simply or exclusively protest, but trust as well. ‘ “Abba Father” all things are possible to Thee…’ ”
I have mentioned these amazingly insightful words of Rowan Williams before, but visiting my Mum today in hospital drew me to find refuge in their truth afresh this evening, hence the sharing of his words again. It was not an easy visit. It is never easy to watch someone you love suffering whether in body, mind or spirit, no matter how much wonderful attention is being given to their care. Perhaps right now, the ambience of your life is far from pleasant. You may be suffering a nightmare in some sense, perhaps it is a nightmare involving those you care about, whose circumstances you would wish to change for them if you could, but cannot. Let your cry of pain and trust, that mixture of confusion, yes even anger or outrage mixed with faith go to Abba. This cry out of the nightmare, the crying out after the painful fall, shows we really are Abba’s chldren, and the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to that from deep within. Cry out to Abba for yourself, for your loved ones who may be too weak to cry out for themselves, for Abba’s children lost and found…