When I was two, my parents took me to Disneyland. They told me that if I were to become lost in a crowd, to sit tight on a bench and wait, no matter how long, until they came for me. We rode the submarine (I was terrified), took the jungle cruise with its surprise hippo emergences (also scary), and we strolled the streets looking at the vendors. I was fascinated by the glass blowers who made knickknack animals, which is where I lost my parents. When I realized I was lost, I spotted a park bench, and sat as instructed. People asked if they could help, or take my tiny self to Lost & Found. But I didn’t budge, and was rewarded moments later when my father found me. I don’t remember his reaction (because to a two-year-old, it’s all about me!), but even now, I remember the utter relief and the comfort and security of Daddy’s strong arms when he scooped me up and hugged me, and then placed me triumphantly on his shoulders.
Although there is surely a billion-way tie for second-greatest father in the world (including my dad, yours, and some outstanding single mothers), the title of World’s Greatest Father has to go to… Abba, our Father God.
Abba created our parents Adam and Eve, and breathed His own sacred breath (the Holy Spirit) into the physical elements He formed. Before His human children sinned, He had committed Himself to redeeming us—for the sole reason that He loved and chose us before the foundation of the world.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 NASB, emphasis supplied.
God redeemed us with His own precious life and death. His blood sacrifice also became our adoption. John the Beloved said, To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. John 1:12, 13 NIV, emphasis supplied.
In sin, we were slaves of the evil one; but in Christ, we are doubly His children: through birth, and again through adoption. Jesus Christ taught us to think of the Father not as a frightening, condemnatory judge, but as our Abba. Abba meant more than “Daddy.” Abba meant children had inalienable rights to their fathers’ presence, rights of inheritance and sustenance—no matter what. Abba rights could not be revoked. Servants and slaves could not use the Abba term, though they could call the master the more formal title of father because he had lordship over their lives. Abba was reserved for the legitimately born or legally adopted children, and denoted a personal and loving relationship.
The Old Testament refers to God as Father 15 times, but it’s used 260 times in the New Testament. Jesus used “Abba Father” in His Gethsemane prayer, even as He irrevocably gave Himself into His Father’s will.
During this celebration of Fathers’ Day, you will probably phone or visit your dad, or remember the dad who is resting in Jesus. If you never had a “daddy,” or if you are estranged from your “male parental unit,” Fathers’ Day can also be a reminder that no matter who or what our earthly fathers have been, our Abba Father is waiting for permission to scoop us up in His strong and secure arms of love, and carry us on His shoulders. And you have the right to His presence simply because He loved you before the foundation of the world! He is the World’s Greatest Abba.