It’s one of those days. I’m missing Mama, and am aching for Dad, my brother, and the grand kids who love her. She’s been in heaven forty-six days, and it’s strange. Simultaneously I can’t believe she’s gone at all and that she’s been gone that long already. (I’m not actually counting. I had to do the math.)
Plus, Sophie, our little girl dog, is at the vet with some kind of infection.
It’s a writing day and I’m sitting here at home, with the gift of this time, surrounded by beauty inside and out singing the blues in my heart.
At first I got after myself. I said all the things to myself I thought might work. “Come on now – Mama is in heaven and Sophie loves her doctor, and we trust her, so it’s going to be okay.” After another cup of coffee I said, “Buck up, Joy. Nothing can happen to you that God doesn’t already know about.” About half-way through that cup, I said, “Joy! Stiffen that upper lip!” (Which has never made sense to me because it’s always my lower lip that’s quivering, and when that one is out of control I can’t do a thing with the bottom one!)
Drinking my third cup of coffee, I remembered the little girl and a promise kept. I don’t know her name and this happened at least twenty years ago so she’s a grown woman by now and might have children of her own.
It was late in the day and I was weary. We were grocery shopping and that’s never been my favorite thing to do. When I’m tired, oh boy! Jon had the cart and was moving at his normal energetic pace. I was lagging behind him throwing a silent pity-party that I’m sure showed up loud and clear on my face. The one thing that kept me putting one foot in front of the other was the promise of my comfy chair and a new book I had waiting for me at home.
Then, there she was. I’d just come out of an aisle and a little girl (maybe 5) was twirling, dancing, and humming out in the big space by the check-out lanes. She looked up toward the pay phones (it was that long ago!) and her joy increased. She beamed. I really needed to get going, but when she called out to him, “Abba! Abba!” I stood there as if frozen.
The ancient words caught me by the heart.
Grateful she hadn’t noticed me, I watched her twirl with confident abandon into his out-stretched arms. And I starred as he drew her close to his heart, and bent his head close to her. She was home safe! His side-locks bounced and his beard must have tickled because she giggled. The father leaned closer to her, whispered something in her ear, and they walked away hand-in-hand.
When I started to breathe again, I realized Jon was standing beside me.
“Did you see them?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said heading down the next aisle.
Turning to follow him, I felt like I was leaving a holy place and spent the rest of our time in the store in an awe-filled haze – the kind that transforms that kind of day into that kind of day.
Back home that night, before diving into the novel waiting for me, I studied the word. By that I mean I looked it up in the Bible, Strong’s Concordance, Easton’s Dictionary, Holmans, and took notes because that’s what I do when I want to know what something means in a personal way. Does that mean I’m more spiritual? Nope. Not a chance. Remember that pity-party I was throwing for myself that day? And I was throwing another one today.
Anyway, I learned that the word/name is used three times in the New Testament – once in the garden by Jesus (Mark 14:36), and twice by Paul. (Romans 8:15 and again in Galatians 4:6)
Easton’s says that Abba is a term expressing warm affection and devoted confidence.
Today, when the story of that little girl came to mind it was no accident, it was an invitation. The moment I whispered, “Abba,” my soul was immersed in the tender, safe, loving embrace of God. No waiting until I was in a better mood, although I immediately was . In a second, I drew near to God and He drew near to me.
Because that’s what God says He will do and He keeps His promises.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8a (ESV)
Until Next Time,
P. S. Sophie is home with antibiotics.