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"In my papa's hands" by Charlene Rack (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2020 Charlene Rack. All rights reserved.[/caption] Shortly after converting to the Catholic faith in 1984, I attended a women’s retreat. One of the speakers quoted the Bible verse that challenges us to cry out to our “Abba, Father.” She said that it was an intimate term of endearment, kind of like calling him “Daddy.” I’d never heard that before, and reacted cynically to the idea. “Who am I,” I thought, “to address my heavenly Father in such an informal manner?” Several years later, this very same concept was presented by a Catholic priest. “Hmmm,” I thought, with this second exhortation. Now it’s a priest saying this, and not just any priest, but a holy, on-fire, priest. This added more weight to the idea of God as my daddy, or papa, but still, I felt uncomfortable trying it. However, I often longed to do so, especially in the midst of crisis and suffering. Could it be that God really does want me to think of Him more in terms of an earthly “daddy/daughter” relationship? Continuing an undeniably Pauline trend in my recent faith ponderings, I turned to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans AND found the words that I’m wrestling with:
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15)
Paul goes on to say that the Holy Spirit has brought forth in mankind the elevated condition of being called “children of God.” We are also heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. Being a “grown-up” doesn’t change our relationship status. When I reached adulthood, I didn’t suddenly start calling my earthly dad “father,” or referring to him by his given name. Not at all! He was still “Dad.” And when I think of him now, gone from this life for thirty years, he’s still my dad, and I think of him as the guy who was always there to help me in a pinch, to offer support, encouragement, and unconditional love. So why have I fought the urge to call on God-the-Father as my “Dad,” trusting in Him to embrace me with a love more powerful than any earthly father is capable of? Entering into this Lent with a heavier-than-usual load of stress makes the idea more appealing to me than ever before. I did a little more reading in Romans, and ran smack-dab into the final sentence of Paul’s Children through Adoption paragraph. “We are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” I have, indeed, been suffering, but have I been suffering with Christ? I woke early this morning in the midst of a panic attack. Folks like to give good advice about not worrying and avoiding anxiety, but sometimes the body is just wired to overreact, even when one’s mind is set on being faithful and putting all trust in God. How can I have control of an over-active adrenal system sending my body into panic mode while I’m sound asleep? I simply can’t. But once I was fully awake, I laid there taking some deep breaths and reminding myself that everything is in God’s hands. I pride myself on being a problem-solver extraordinaire, but there are trials facing me right now that are just … beyond me. It’s time to swallow that pride, before I choke to death on it! I thought about God being more like a daddy, and me his scared little girl. I recalled the fear of getting lost from my father once, in the grocery store, how terrified I was, and how I frantically called out, “Daddy, DADDY! Where are you?!” I want to truly “live according to the spirit,” (Romans 8:5), and call on God in the same way, to trust Him, and submit to His wisdom and care and all-consuming love. I’m taking a leap of faith, and calling out now, “Abba, Father, where are you? This is all too much for me. I can’t fix this on my own; I need you. I place all of my concerns, my family, my fears, my very self, into your strong and capable hands. I believe that all things happen for a reason, and that you will draw forth goodness and healing from this mess that I’m in. I need you, my loving Papa, to take care of all things for me.” Suddenly I’m bombarded with reassurances. The psalm response for the day was “Throw your cares on the Lord, and He will support you” (Psalm 55). Next, I started reading a book by the late Fr. Jim Willig, Lessons from the School of Suffering, and one of his assignments for the first chapter is to pray, “Lord, I place my life into your hands.” I imagine Abba Father reaching down, and lifting me up with His hands. I find that I am not alone. All who have had the courage to “let go” are here with me. We are sons and daughters of God, united in our suffering, held safe in the arms of the Father. I enter into Lent with trouble all around me, but I am in good hands, the very best of hands, for they will carry me safely through the days ahead, and hold onto me through all of eternity. "In my papa's hands" by Charlene Rack (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2020 Charlene Rack. All rights reserved.[/caption]
Copyright 2020 Charlene Rack