In Scripture there are many different names used to describe God. While all the names of God are important for a variety of reasons, the name “Abba Father” is one of the most significant names in terms of understanding how he relates to his people. The Aramaic word Abba would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust a young child puts in his daddy.
Anyone who has been a Christian for almost any length of time understands God as “our Father.” Having received salvation at the age of twenty-one, I, too, understood the concept of God as Father but it wasn’t until last year—at the age of fifty-two—that I truly began to understand the fatherhood of God beyond the abstract.
You see, last year my son deployed to Afghanistan. As an infantry Marine, his job was to "locate, close with, and kill the enemy." He and his comrades spent almost every day in direct ground combat.
As his father, I spent every waking moment burdened for his safety and well-being. The anxiety and stress was, at times, overwhelming. Every time the phone rang or there was a knock at the door, my heart would stop, wondering if this was the dreaded call telling me my precious son had been killed or wounded. My heart and mind were utterly occupied with concern for his welfare. When I was able to speak with him, sometimes following a particularly harrowing day of combat, all of my energy was dedicated to guiding him toward the only Truth in which he might find comfort and solace. Every word was carefully chosen and delivered—as he literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death—so that his character would be formed in truth and his peace would not be found in other things or even me but in our Lord.
It was through this experience I began to truly understand the Father’s love for me. I thought, “If I, who was human, were so fixated on the total welfare of my son, how much more is my Heavenly Father attentive to me?” No longer was the concept of God as Father an abstract idea but a real experience in which I now knew the intimate and intentional depth of the Father’s love.
Some of you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? This should be obvious.” However, others of you, like me, never had the benefit of an earthly father who loved, nurtured, and counseled you as his precious child. As a result, God as Father may remain somewhat abstract in the absence of a godly model of earthly fatherhood.
God the Father is the perfect example for all earthly fathers. He is holy, just, and fair, but his most outstanding quality is love—“because God is love” (1 John 4:8, NIV). If you are an adopted child of God, rest fully in the assurance that your Father loves you with power, particularity, and intentionality far greater than anything in this world.
© 2013 by S. Michael Craven
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S. Michael Craven is the president of Battle for Truth and the author of Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity (Navpress, 2009). Michael's ministry is dedicated to equipping the church to engage the culture with the redemptive mission of Christ. For more information on Battle for Truth and the teaching ministry of S. Michael Craven, visit www.battlefortruth.org.