I happened to be riding a tour bus, but the encounter could have happened centuries earlier.
The journey was a bit long and it was decided a stop for something to eat and to relieve ourselves would be helpful.
Most of the travelers went ahead into the roadside establishment. I sat at a table out front, preferring to save my coins and enjoy the snack in my bag.
Delightful little voices drew my attention to a young family sharing the space. Perhaps they too are saving their coins. The flavor of my fruit and nuts was enhanced by the interactions of the parents and children.
The boy was younger, perhaps four years. He could barely stay seated as his mother served their meal. The girl might have been seven years. She spent her energy chattering away about this and that. Their language was foreign to me.
At one point the mother spoke to the father with concern in her voice. He rose and left the area, apparently to retrieve a forgotten item. The mother put her hand on the boy’s arm to keep him close. She spoke gently to the girl in response to her questioning words.
Given permission, the girl jumped up and went to the railing that marked the eating area. She put her hands on the rail and stretched herself up high on tip-toes before calling, “Abba. Abba.”
He gave his attention, turning to look into his daughter’s eyes.
She offered a few earnest words.
Their meaning was lost to me. Her Abba understood and responded immediately. He came to her, tousled her hair, and took her hand.
A few moments later, they reappeared.
The daughter skipped along beside her Abba as they returned to the plan for the day. He in his loving strength to meet her needs. She with confirmed confidence in her Abba’s care.
I still remember her long, auburn hair and sparkling, olive eyes.
I remember the way she reached up over that barrier to seek her Abba’s face.
And I wonder . . .
I wonder if she might represent the Abba relationship with our heavenly Father that I, we, many of us crave.
Intimate. Respectful. Informal. Confident.
I offer the uses of Abba preserved for us in the New Testament for meditation.
“‘Abba!’ (that is, “Dear Father!”) All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me! Still, not what I want, but what you want.'” Mark 14:36*
Jesus, “the only begotten Son”, cried out to His Abba for relief in dire straits.
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear; on the contrary, you received the Spirit, who makes us sons and by whose power we cry out, ‘Abba!’ (that is, “Dear Father!”).” Romans 8:15*
Paul clarifies our position and privilege to call out, “Abba!”
“Now because you are sons, God has sent forth into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, the Spirit who cries out, ‘Abba!’ (that is “Dear Father!”). So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son you are also an heir.” Galatians 4:6-7*
Paul reminds us that the Spirit in us marks our adoption as sons and daughters, heirs.
May the Father make us all aware of the Abba relationship He bestows.
with humble confidence,
*Complete Jewish Bible, An English version by David H. Stern
Shameless use of my favorite granddaughter’s photo.