All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:14-17 HCSB
Math was a complete mystery to me as a kid. A=Bx3/2.64? Huh? My dad was a brilliant electrical engineer. While I did not inherit is math prowess, I had something better – the man himself. He would return from a full day of work and forego the comfort of his armchair to sit at the kitchen table and tutor me. And when I wept in frustration? He comforted, and not just about math. I cried on my father about boyfriends, social slights, which college to choose and which jobs to take. In every case, he was patient and gave me sound advice. When I got my driver’s license and promptly wrecked the car, the first person I wanted to call was Daddy, because I was completely confident I’d find not fury but compassion.
Now contrast that with the picture of a slave. Her master gives her tasks and rules, not for her own benefit, but for her master’s. And she does them trembling, knowing that if she does not, the whip awaits.
These verses tell me I am God’s daughter, not His slave. He wants me to know that, deep in my bones, my spirit testifying with the Holy Spirit. When I make a wreck of something in my life, I can have complete confidence that if I take it God, I’ll find compassion and not fury. I can be assured that the tasks and rules God has given me are for my own good, not simply for His comfort and pleasure. God is my patient tutor, helping me “grow up” to be more like him, even while I cry about it. God is my Daddy. I am his daughter. What does that mean to you?
Quite a contradiction, isn’t it? This post about being a daughter, not a slave on a blog entitled “the free slave.”
It seems that our God has a thing for contradictions, though. Three in One? The least shall be the greatest? The virgin birth? The King of the universe put to death on the cross?
And the free slave. Daughter of that risen King. Indeed, what does this mean?
To me, it means I kneel before Him, taking the humble position of a slave, and He lifts me up, graciously calling me ‘beloved.’ It means that I am no longer afraid of the wrath that abides on sinners, because he has adopted me and given me a spirit that cries to him ‘Daddy!’
Like Susan, I have a close relationship with my earthly dad. He’s been my hero since he taught me how to play catch—so long ago I can’t remember how old I was. When I was lost, my daddy came to find me. When I was in trouble, I knew I could go to him. When I was on the verge of making a bad decision, he faithfully pointed out the better path. I now tell my daughters “there wasn’t any way I would have married your daddy if mine hadn’t approved.” He was and is still that important.
Some, however, don’t share this connection with their dads. It’s hard to relate to a good Heavenly Father when the earthly one wasn’t much to look up to. But this word in Romans—this ‘abba’—it is the name for God the Father that we see Jesus using in his most soul-wrenching prayer. In that scene we at once see the love of the Son for His father, His trust, and His submission.
Love. Trust. Submission. All because I get to call God “Abba.” Daddy.