Abba, Father!

—the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
— Romans 8:15

To be a child is not necessarily to be a son or daughter. The childship is the lower condition of the upward process towards the sonship. God can no more than an earthly parent be content to have only children: he must have sons and daughters—children of his soul, of his spirit, of his love---not merely in the sense that he loves them, or even that they love him, but in the sense that they love like him, love as he loves. For this he does not adopt them; he dies to give them himself, thereby to raise his own to his heart; he gives them a birth from above; they are born again out of himself and into himself. His children are not his real, true sons and daughters until they think like him, feel with him, judge as he judges, are at home with him and without fear before him because he and they love the same things, seek the same ends. For this are we created; it is the one end of our being. He is our father all the time, for he is true; but until we respond with the truth of children, he cannot let all the father out to us; there is no place for the dove of his tenderness to alight. He is our father, but we are not his children. Because we are his children, we must become his sons and daughters. Nothing will satisfy him, or do for us, but that we be one with our father! What else could serve! How else should life ever be a good! Because we are the sons of God, we must become the sons of God.

Commentary

Spiderman and Broken Paradigms
by Diane Adams

Broken paradigms, ways of understanding the world, are painful growing experiences. I remember when my youngest son was about 3. His whole world was Spiderman. First thing in the morning, he’d suit up and start climbing. He rigged the trees in the front yard with garden hoses so he could swing from building to building. He read all the literature, spoke in superheroese, spun ‘webs’ out of shaving cream all over the furniture. He was Spiderman, and Spiderman was his world. 

One day my husband took him into downtown Houston. They went up a skyscraper to see the tall buildings Spiderman could traverse. Charlie looked out from the top, and said, “I don’t think he can do it. He would fall and die. He doesn’t really swing from buildings, does he? He’s not even real.” David didn’t argue, feeling that our Spiderman could think to take things too far if he knew it could be done. From that day on, Spiderman began to fade. He still tried to wear the suit and shoot webs, but inside something had happened. He tried, but could longer believe. 

For years, he wanted nothing to do with superheroes. The paradigm was broken, and the suffering and disillusionment made the whole world of Marvel too painful to approach. Only in the past year, 5 years later, has he shown interest again in superheroes. 

Growing from a child to adult is not easy, and even as adults we experience the disillusionment of broken paradigms, and the resultant need to avoid the source of the pain. Maybe God turned out to be not at all the way we thought he would be. Maybe we found out a core idea in our lives, something we’d built everything else around, was not in fact true. Maybe we made a life decision based on misunderstanding reality. The moment a paradigm breaks, hurt follows, and then aversion to the whole mess--we don’t know how to put it back together. 

Misunderstandings about God and who he is and what he wants from us probably account for most cases of shipwrecked faith. But a broken paradigm is actually a huge opportunity in disguise. Inside the ashes of misplaced idealism there is a waiting resurrection, a chance for growing a deeper faith, a better way to see. To discover we’ve been wrong is a chance to correct the vision, to seek more understanding. This is growing up, in spiritual terms, from a child to an adult. We no longer believe reality, the person of God, depends on our own conception of him. He is leading us to truth, using our own broken road signs to point the way. 

To become the father’s son, his image, we must think like he does, see like he does, allow him to teach us truth. Someday we’ll outgrow mourning the fact that Spiderman is not a real guy. We can watch his movies and read his comics without sadness because in the end truth is better than a fantasy character. In fact, fantasy is simply a dim reflection of ultimate truth, and we walk on to a greater vision.