Brennan Manning can write a book, let me tell you! While I am reading this for the first time I know that it is going to be one that I go back to again. There is too much to take in at one sitting, trust me! I had chapter 4–Abba’s Child and the title of the book to read for our weekly “sisterly” discussion and I was not disappointed.
The concept of God as Abba is one that I can embrace though I would imagine those with less than ideal relationships with their own earthly fathers would have difficulty with. Since I had such a positive role model as a father I can totally come to terms with what this concept is and I yearn for that relationship with my heavenly Father. Manning makes the observation that Jesus experienced his Heavenly Father in just that way—an intimate relationship that He did not want to keep only for himself but in all His wisdom He understood that this was the relationship that each of us as a Christian should be able to share in. Manning states “The greatest gift I have ever received from Jesus Chris has been the Abba experience.” Awesome.
In this chapter, rich with examples and as always with Manning–quotes from others– Manning talks about a time when he was in retreat–searching for insight and direction. After hours of nothingness it came to him “LIve in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.” Wow. When my husband looks at me with tenderness I know that he really loves me, he cares for me, he accepts me for me. In the words of Sally Fields—“he really really likes me”. When someone cares for us that way we open up–we share and we ourselves become tender because we feel safe and accepted. Tenderness is the result. That is what God longs for with us, I believe. He wants us to be tender and compassionate with others—and that comes when we realize that we are God’s beloved one. He loves us for the person that we are. Wrap your mind around that one!!!
One of the quotes that stuck out to me in this chapter was in a story related about the priest from Detroit —in it the priest’s 80 year old uncle ends up skipping down the road, happy and glowing and smiling. When asked about it he responded that he was happy because “Yes, you see, my Abba is very fond of me.” It reminded me of the repeated line in the book “The Shack” where God said “I am especially fond of that one”. I want God to say that about me! Do you think he does?? About each of us??? I think there must be times when God sees our compassion for others and says that of each of us. Compassion = tenderness. When we are Spirit filled that is the end result—tenderness.
There was so much in this chapter that struck me and I will let my sissy comment on what struck her and not belabor this any more but a quote from Henri Nouwen resonated with me. ” What is required is to become the Beloved in the common places of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.” AMEN!