Rising Leader Series: Week 1 - Abba Father
Updated: Feb 25
O SAP OF LOVE
In You I live and move and have my being
Connected as the branch is to the vine
O Sap of Love so warm, so strong, so freeing
That joins eternal Yours with finite mine
Though in my soul through wheat still springs the weed
Though in my heart the shadows still remain
Your grace has lifted me beyond my deeds
And planted me upon a higher plain
Today I offer far-from-perfect all
To be grafted to the world as is Your will
And so advance the purpose of my call
That I might, like Your others, bear fruit still
Thank you, blessed vine, for sap of Your grace
Emboldening my reach towards Your embrace
The world cries out for leaders who know this: God is in all, and God is love. And if God is in all, He is in us and those around us– the intimate love-bond that binds all humanity. And if God is love, He loves us just the way we are. Of course, He hopes we will become the people we were born to be. He wraps us in freedom, then prays we will make the free-will choice to return to Him and our original goodness. He prays that once we see the goodness in ourselves, we will see it in others. That we will care, and because we care we will act as healers within His Creation. This is God.
In January, my letters to you (including this one) probe the question, “Who is God the Father?”. For those (like you) who will become the next generation’s leaders, it is an important question– both for you and the world. Our connectedness to God is deeply correlated with our connectedness to the world. The world needs leaders who care— leaders of goodness. I can’t define God the Father in any comprehensive way, of course. But perhaps I can offer a few slivers of light. This week and for the next three, I choose four: God as Abba Father, God as Creator, God as connected in space, and God as connected in time. Just four twists of an infinite divine kaleidoscope.
Today we start with Abba Father.
Our own fathers wield outsized influence on our views of God the patriarch. My father was my hero. Taskmaster, teacher, hugger, encourager, playmate, provider, protector, moral compass and occasional disciplinarian– he did his best, and I’m forever grateful.
I remember one summer day after church. I was about seven years old at the time. Dad stood by our car chatting with a neighbor. He was wearing his Sunday best: tall, confident, and well-put-together. He had a way of putting one foot forward as he talked, turning it outward. He liked to bury one hand in his pocket while the other waved in rhythm with his talking. I remember standing there in my rumpled jacket with shirt hanging out, putting one hand in my pocket just like him, sticking one foot forward just like him, and turning the toe of my scuffed-up penny loafers out just like him. Just like him– that was my goal. My father was my sun and moon and stars. And I knew with utter certainty that he was over the moon about me.
So it is with God. God is over the moon in love with you and me. Yes, He is our moral compass and occasional disciplinarian– but He is also our encourager, teacher, provider and protector. Abba Father cares about every hair on our heads. He knows our worst, but seeks our best. He judges gently. His hand is always outstretched; His sandals are tied and He is ready to journey with us through all that life brings. God is faithful: He believes in us, even when we don’t believe in Him.
But how about us? Are we faithful? Do we put one hand in our pocket just like him, and turn our foot just so? Do we seek to be just like Him? I hope so. We will never get it quite right– our shirts will hang out, our ties will remain askew, our jackets will still be rumpled and our penny loafers scuffed. But God our Father treasures our attempts.
Like a diamond, God’s love has many facets. Each offers a fresh and glimmering perspective to reorder our reality. God shines His colorful light upon us in moments both ordinary and extraordinary, illuminating the most important things. He reveals Himself over the course of our lives in stages– showing us each day the light we most need. Whenever I have allowed God’s light to penetrate, my perspective has changed for the better.
This is how I see Abba, our Father. He is patient, encouraging, compassionate, creative, active, forgiving and infinitely loving. He’s not some cold and distant figure sitting on a mountaintop throne. He is intimately with us and in us. He loves us. He seeks a relationship with us. Will we turn to Him?
Good leader, take pause for a moment. Right now. Close your eyes; call out to Abba Father in the silence of your heart. Unlock the door of your soul and welcome Him in. Yes, as you open the door, He is sure to enter on a breeze of change— but the change He will offer will be change for the better. He will reveal Himself to you in stages, turning the kaleidoscope each time you are ready to discover a new facet of Him. All are gifts; all will bring renewal. I hope you will accept the gifts He brings you. But fair warning— He will want a hug.
Next week, we will talk about the motherly side of God.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!-- 1 John 3:1
May Abba be with you,
Previous Week's Letter: