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"ABBA, Lift Me Up!"

„At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’” – Jesus of Nazareth (Gospel of Matthew Chapter 11, Verse 25) „All those evil doctrines about God that work misery and madness have their origin in the brains of the wise and prudent, not in the hearts of children.“ – George MacDonald Today I’ve been reflecting a bit on my spiritual journey over the years, from my first encounters with Divine Love, through my brief brushes with fundamentalism, to where I am at today. What I noticed is that my walk became always narrow and rigid when I lost my sense of childlike wonder and got stuck in dogmas that were unworthy of the One Jesus called “Abba”. That doesn’t mean there weren’t times when I had to deeply think through things, quite the opposite, every experience along the way, would lead to deeper contemplation and questioning of ideas and doctrines that I had adopted from my surrounding culture and upbringing. But looking back at it, I know that everything changed for me the day I gave up on my addiction to doctrinal certainty and was finally able to cry out, “Abba, Father!” The revelation that accompanied this experience involved both the masculine and the feminine aspects of the parental nature of the Divine and not only did I finally find a place of rest in my heart, but my entire mind seemed to get reconfigured and my theology started to deconstruct and reconstruct from that moment on. In Jewish culture, the word “Abba” is a familiar term for “father” and is also used as a title and sometimes even a real name, but almost never as a term for God, except possibly for a few rare cases in Judaism’s Galilean mystical tradition that Jesus was properly raised in. However, when Jesus came on the scene, He used the term frequently – not only in Mark 14:36 but also whenever the word “Pater” occurs in the Greek text - and it marks the prayer life of those who walk in His Spirit and consciousness (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:6). “Abba” is a term of dear endearment, but also of deep respect – similar to the word “Grandfather” in some Native American traditions - and small children in in the Middle East today use it in a similar way as English speaking kids would use the word “Dadda”. “Dadda” or “Mamma” is usually the first word that a child speaks in the English language and just as we wait for these first words and are overjoyed when they finally utter them, so our Abba waits and is overjoyed when we finally turn towards Him/Her in this way. No wonder the host of Heaven rejoices when this happens (Luke 15: 7 & 10). Just as it is quite common to see children in the Middle East crying to be lifted up by their dad’s and mum’s, so we all are longing deep within our hearts for the embrace and safety of our Abba’s arms. My own children still ask me to pick them up from time to time, even though they are getting a bit too heavy for me by now. This is the image that I envision when I envision our Abba. As adults we usually don’t like to be picked up like this anymore and prefer to be on the same level with our peers – appearing “wise and prudent” (Matthew 11:25). But children usually find greater security in their parents arms than by sitting on the floor. They are not scared to express their need and their joy for being lifted up, often accompanied by quite unsophisticated noises. Probably one of the main reasons for this is that they can see far more in their parent’s embrace, lifted up higher from their limited perspective as a child. This is precisely the kind of attitude our Abba wants for us, so we can see things from His/Her perspective. Yet, it seems that so much of what poses under the guise of Jesus’ teachings these days has embraced an attitude of being “wise and prudent” – including the charismatic streams of Christianity and certain forms of deconstruction. We need to ask questions and challenge our beliefs, but if we truly want to see from a higher perspective, we need to be ready to be amazed again with childlike wonder, as we learn to cry, “Abba, lift me up!”

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