As an early teenager and a young Christian, following the Lord wasn’t easy. I found it so difficult that I eventually rebelled against my upbringing and sank deep into a world of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. It’s by God’s grace that I found healing and restoration.
There were several reasons for the hardships I experienced as I tried to live out my faith among my peers. I won’t list them all here.
But I will tell you that I believe my biggest frustration was due to an incomplete, even downright detestable, view of God.
Of course I was taught that Jesus was kind, loving, and able to save us from our sins, but it sure seemed like the major thrust of the preaching and the general attitude I picked up along the way was that God was capricious, ready to condemn, and demanded constant sacrifice to appease his insatiable thirst for more of our blood, sweat, and tears.
I could never pray enough, read enough Scripture, or do enough ministry to find favor with God. Over time I became resentful and bitter in my journey. So, I quit. I told God he could keep his religion. I wanted out.
Several years later the Lord reached down and revealed himself to me in the midst of my rebellion and sin. I had an encounter with Jesus and his love that forever changed my life. I’ll never forget it.
The Lord kindly whispered that I was wrong about him and that he would like us to start over. That was the beginning of something new.
Learning to Say “Abba, Father”
When I was in college the Lord began to reveal the origins of my earlier frustrations as a young person.
I must confess that growing up I didn’t feel very close to my dad. Also, several older male influences were insensitive, angry, and antagonistic. I longed to be affirmed at an early age, but suffered a deficit.
Thus began my mad pursuit of numbing the pain and filling the void.
I eventually discovered that a fundamentalist presentation of a bicep-flexing, bully-God combined with a dysfunctional relationship with my earthly father (and other male leaders) resulted in a deep inability to view God as a loving heavenly Father. Something I couldn’t see at the time.
I see it more clearly everyday now. I think at some level we’re always fighting against false images of God. Our hope is only found in a fresh revelation of the God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.
As Jesus told his disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).
What’s keeping you? Really. What’s keeping you from following the Lord in freedom? Have you seen the Father rightly in Jesus?
This is the greatest need of the church. The only way of revolution.
I believe the Lord wants us to call him “Abba, Father” and feel it from the depth of our soul. I’m learning that the more I come to know God fully revealed in Christ, this great term of endearment is born from the heart and rolls off the tongue naturally in prayer.
And since we have a loving Father, Jesus says we may ask of him whatever we like for the sake of the Kingdom.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14
Let’s ask the Lord for the “greater” things this year, expecting that he will do it. He wants to do it. Believe it.
Abba, Father. Free us from the old familiar. Remove the scales of dead faith and putrid theology from our eyes that so often obscures our vision of your glorious Son, and keeps us from believing in greater things.
Holy Spirit, move across the earth like a mighty rushing wind.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
D.D. Flowers, 2013.