Call me Abba

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God led me on an interesting journey this morning on the relationship between God and man as Father and child. It began when I read “a Father to the Fatherless” in Psalm 68:5. I started to wonder why God chose to portray Himself as Father and the relevance of this to me as His child. Here are some things I discovered:

  • The Hebrew word for father is used around 15 times in the Old Testament (not including the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha – though still extremely rare in these texts).
  • The first time we find the term ‘father’ in Scripture is Deuteronomy 32:6, “Is He not your Father that has bought you? Has He not made you, and established you?”

There is a radical change between Old and New Testament.

  • ‘Abba’ (Aramaic) was Jesus’ favourite term for God.
  • When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He taught them to also call God ‘Abba’ (Luke 11:2)
  • The Greek term for father, Pater, appears over 65 times in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and over 100 times in the Gospel of John.
  • The term ‘Abba’ was translated into the Greek ‘Pater’ in most of the New Testament. There are only three verses where the original Aramaic is kept: Mark 14:36, Rom. 8:15-16, and Gal. 4:6.

What does ‘Abba’ mean then?

  • Father (Nave’s Topical Bible)
  • A term expressing warm affection and childlike confidence. There is no perfect equivalent in English. (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
  • In the Jewish Rabbinical Tradition, slaves were forbidden to address the head of the family by this term. It is almost a proper name, in contrast to ‘father’ which is general. ‘Abba’ is a word framed by an infant’s unreasoning trust, whereas ‘father’ expresses intelligent apprehension of the relationship. (Vine’s expository Dictionary of NT Words).

What does this mean for us?

For Saint Paul, fatherhood was based on the redemption and reconciliation made available to us in Jesus Christ. We, who were once dead (Eph. 2:1) and slaves to sin (Rom. 6:20), are liberated through Jesus. In Jesus Christ, we are adopted into a new relationship with God in which we can likewise call Him Abba.

An ‘Abba relationship’ is one of unashamed intimacy, fulfilling love, total confidence in His Goodness and His plan, and a complete childlike dependence (Matt. 18:3). Calling God ‘our Abba’ is more personal than calling Him father. It is a relationship available to any of us, like that of a father and child but deeper still.

Many of us are not able to see God as Abba. We are still living like slaves forbidden to approach our master in such a raw and honest union. I can’t pinpoint the problem for each one of us but I believe it begins with our knowledge of Him, the effort we make to be still and hear His voice clearly, and our faith in His redemption and goodness.

Perhaps some do not want to associate God with fatherhood due to personal circumstances. We know that God is not human (Num. 23:19) and that He is Spirit (John 4:24), although His full nature is a mystery to us. He is neither male nor female. On the one hand, the reference to God as a father is to show us His supreme power and authority over the earth. But equally important, it is to attempt to reflect just a fraction of the perfect and mysterious parent/child relationship we are called to have with Him. Like I said before, it is even deeper than such a relationship because “when my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

I pray that we can each come to believe in His real and everlasting Abbahood in our hearts. I pray that He removes every obstacle that exists within us, or that we may encounter outside of us, to having such a relationship with Him. Jesus gives us this relationship with His Abba, it is already ours to take – may we lay hold of it. I will leave you with one of my favourite verses:

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.'” Jeremiah 31:3 

QOD: The Mystery of Love is Solitude

“The mystery of love is that it protects and respects the aloneness of the other and creates the free space where he can convert his loneliness into a solitude that can be shared. In this solitude we can strengthen each other by mutual respect, by careful consideration of each other’s individuality, by an obedient distance from each other’s privacy and by a reverent understanding of the sacredness of the human heart. In this solitude we encourage each other to enter into the silence of our innermost being and discover there the voice that calls us beyond the limits of human togetherness to a new communion. In this solitude we can slowly become aware of a presence of Him who embraces friends and lovers and offers us the freedom to love each other, because He loved us first.”

QOD: Making prints from negatives

“And so, writing about the spiritual life is like making prints from negatives. Maybe it is exactly the experience of loneliness that allows us to describe the first tentative lines of solitude. Maybe it is precisely the shocking confrontation with our hostile self that gives us words to speak about hospitality as a real option, and maybe we will never find the courage to speak about prayer as a human vocation without the disturbing discovery of our own illusions. Often it is the dark forest that makes us think about the open field. Frequently prison makes us think about freedom, hunger helps us to appreciate food, and war gives us words for peace. Not seldom are our visions of the future born out of the sufferings of the present and our hope for others out of our own despair. Only few ‘happy endings’ make us happy, but often someone’s careful and honest articulation of the ambiguities, uncertainties and painful conditions of life give us new hope. The paradox is indeed that new life is born out of the pains of the old.”

Henri Nouwen

A Divine Visitation

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“When he arrived at the treasury with his bodyguard, the Lord of Spirits and all authority was already present. He caused such a great manifestation that all who dared to accompany him were panic-stricken at God’s power…For a certain horse appeared to them, having a fearful rider. It was arrayed with a very beautiful pack saddle, and it rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hooves. He who sat thereon was seen wearing a full armour of gold. Two other young men also appeared to him, remarkable in bodily strength, very beautiful in grandeur, and illustrious in dress…so they came to know, and it was clearly proven to be the power of Almighty God...the people blessed the Lord, who acted marvellously for His own place. The temple, which a little while earlier had been full of fear and trouble, was now filled with joy and gladness, because the Almighty Lord had appeared.” 2 Maccabees 3:22-31

The Lord acted marvellously for His own place.

Throughout the Old Testament we witness God’s amazing protection of His people, His temple, and His chosen city – Jerusalem. Today, we are extraordinarily blessed to live in a time when we can worship in Spirit and truth, without being restricted to a specific location, for the Spirit of God dwells inside of each of us (John 4:24, 1 Cor. 6:19). Now we are His temple.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

If God acted so marvellously for a temple of stone, how much more wonderfully will He act on behalf of His human dwelling places – His creation made in His own image? We often lack faith and trust in our Father’s love, mercy, compassion, and goodness towards us. We struggle with disbelief that the Lord of Spirits and all authority could ever truly be on our side, come to our aid.

“For He does not willingly afflict or grieve the sons of men.” (Lamentations 33:3)

Like the Jews in this period of the Maccabees, who could not imagine that God would help them after everything they had been through and all of their sins against Him, we are also “full of fear and trouble” when we surrender to unbelief. This is where prayer comes in. Prayer is the means to access such a divine visitation because it unifies us with God who is inside of us.

“Prayer unites the soul with its creator and reconciles the two.” Saint John of Damascus

Through prayer we come before the powerful and Fearful Rider and plead our case; the defender of our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls rushes to comfort us. Through prayer the Almighty Lord’s presence is strengthened within us and our fear and trouble is turned into joy and gladness just like in 2 Maccabees 3:22-31.

For wherever the Divine Visitation (our Lord Jesus Christ) appears, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). We are free from the bonds of fear, the chains of anxiety, and the blindfold of doubt when we unite with Jesus and experience His glory in prayer. Knowing thus that the Lord will never cease to act marvellously for His place, and being confident of His place in us, “let us come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

On making peace with ourselves and why we don’t

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“Make peace with yourself, and both heaven and earth will make peace with you.” Saint Isaac the Syrian 

What does it mean to make peace with yourself and why is it so hard!? I meditate on this quote by St. Isaac the Syrian a lot – this is a man who knew that loving God, and loving others, has a lot to do with our ability to love ourselves. St. Augustine also wrote that we must know ourselves, if we desire to know God.

Jesus told us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

How can I love God with all of my heart, if I do not know what a heart is worth? How can I love God my all my soul, if I never consider its existence? How can I love God with all of my mind, if I am constantly busying myself with other things? How can I love my neighbour as myself, if I do not love myself at all?

The truth is that I simply cannot. If I am not at peace with myself, I cannot be at peace with God or anyone else. If I do not love, value, and appreciate my own existence as God has made me, I will not be able to do the same for others. I may be able to replicate peace, joy, and love but it will always be a facade of the real thing.

So then if making peace with ourselves is one of the greatest stages in our spiritual journey, why are we always trying to run away from this process? Here are a few reasons I can think of:

1. We are afraid of pride

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8)

This fear of pride, however, comes from a misunderstanding of humility. If I think little of myself, what humility is there in serving others or patiently accepting poor treatment and harsh words? This kind of behaviour and thinking is rooted more in insecurity, rather than humility. True humility is acting like Christ, summarized so perfectly in Philippians 2:5-8. Jesus knew that he was equal with God and YET He made Himself of no reputation. This is real humility and real self-sacrifice – knowing that we have the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, that we are unconditionally loved and accepted children of God, and CHOOSING to put others before ourselves out of sacrificial love, kindness, and joy like Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

2. We cannot sit still

Many people have a hard time being alone – some may find it hard to live by themselves, be single, or even spend just a few minutes in silence. Instead, we always busy ourselves with projects, work, service, books, or even bible studies! Why? We say that we don’t have time. Or, we argue that we are doing spiritually beneficial things with the time that we have – I mean come on what is more important than serving God’s people!? But I think the truth is that (1) we are afraid to sit with ourselves, (2) it doesn’t occur to us that being alone with God is important, or (3) we are afraid to hear God and be convicted about our actions.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

“For faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

“The first stage of this tranquility consists in silencing the lips when the heart is excited. The second, in silencing the mind when the soul is still excited. The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.” St. John Climacus

“The arrows of the enemy cannot touch one who loves quietness; but he who moves about in a crowd will often be wounded.” Abba Nilus 

There are numerous bible verses, quotes by church fathers, and books on the importance of practicing regular periods of silence. It is in sitting before God in solitude that we are able to watch our own thoughts, meditate on our behaviour, and most importantly hear God speak to us. Do not expect to hear from God or learn about yourself, if you never have any time to listen and observe. Quiet time in God’s presence is crucial to learning about, loving, and making peace with yourself. It is a necessary step in sanctification, purification, and spiritual growth.

3. We avoid (seriously dislike) repenting

We are creatures of pride. Our very fall was due to human pride that still resides in each one of us today. As such, it is extremely difficult to confess our faults, struggles, weaknesses, and mistakes. It is extremely hard to admit such things to another person, but it is arguably harder to admit them to ourselves. If we are really being honest, we can confess that sometimes we apologize to someone because we want their love, respect, attention, acceptance (or because it is less of a hassle) than because we truly believe that we are at fault. There is seemingly less to benefit from self-reflection.

But daily repentance and reflection is the source of love and joy – love for yourself, God, and others. Yes, it is hard to be vulnerable about our flaws, but we must remember that we are not pouring ourselves out before a great black void that cannot help us! As we bring our struggles to God, He frees us from them. He works within us to liberate us from our weaknesses, our demons, our flaws, bad habits, and learned behaviours. What brings more love of self than knowing that God of the universe actively desires and enjoys working in your life – that he cares for you? What brings more love to others than seeing that we are all equally imperfect? What can bring more joy than freedom from such bonds? Thus, daily repentance before our Lord is crucial to making peace with ourselves.

4. It hurts and 5. It takes time and effort

Making peace with yourself is a healing process and we all recognize that healing is painful. Healing requires digging up bad experiences, painful memories, and shedding light on wrong beliefs. Healing may mean changing the way we think or act – it may mean letting go of certain people. Often confronted with all of this potential pain, we decide that we do not want to take the time to make the effort. We simply do not want to associate ourselves with “self-help books” or “therapy” – that stuff is for crazy people.

The truth is that we all have baggage and we all need to learn to be reconciled with ourselves. No one is born into self-love – especially in a world where any sign of weakness is seen as a defect at best, nonsense, or complete failure at worst. If you think you don’t need to make any effort to reach such peace, you are kidding yourself. If you think you can avoid pain and suffering, I’m sad to inform you that you are wrong. There will always be pain; however, you can suffer on your way to healing and building a better relationship with God and others or you can suffer and grow more isolated from everything and everyone.

With of all that being said, I hope you can see the importance and necessity of this process of making peace with yourself. I pray that you have the strength to begin your journey and the courage to ask for help. I know God is working in you at this very instant.

Some helpful resources:

Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud (deals with issues of bonding, boundaries, understanding good and bad, and growing emotionally and spiritually).

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (deals with issues of emotional and spiritual maturity)

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus

-A Christian Counsellor

-Spiritual father, mother, or mentor

Just remember the importance of sitting by yourself, in silence, before God!! This is perhaps the greatest tool when practised regularly and in combination with these others things!!

“Accept your identity as the Child of God”

I just started reading a book by Henri Nouwen called The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey from Anguish to Freedom. It was written during the darkest and most difficult days of his life battling depression and loss. The book is written as a series of excerpts, notes to himself, on his painful and liberating experience in learning to love and accept himself fully through God’s amazing Grace. I read this message today and I thought I would share it with you, I hope it touches you as much as it touched me.

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.

You need spiritual guidance; you need people who can keep you anchored in your true identity. The temptation to disconnect from that deep place in you where God dwells and to let yourself be drowned in the praise or blame of the world always remains.

Since that deep place in you where your identity as a child of God is rooted has been unknown to you for a long time, those who were able to touch you there had a sudden and often overwhelming power over you. They became a part of your identity. You could no longer live without them. But they could not fulfill that divine role, so they left you, and you felt abandoned. But it is precisely that experience of abandonment that called you back to your true identity as a child of God.

Only God can fully dwell in that deepest place in you and give you a sense of safety. But the danger remains that you will let other people run away with your sacred centre, thus throwing you into anguish.

It might take a great deal of time and discipline to fully reconnect your deep, hidden self and your public self, which is known, loved, and accepted but also criticized by the world. Gradually, though, you begin feeling more connected and become more fully who you truly are – a child of God. There lies your real freedom.”

I don’t know about you but I have let more people than I would like to admit “run away with my sacred centre” (see the article Heart to Heart on the importance of guarding your heart). Let us pray together that we can learn to accept our identity as children of God, understand the freedom that comes with that role, truly live it and put it into practice daily, and discipline ourselves so that we may be able to connect with people at the level God desires for us – without replacing Him in our hearts. May He lead us on this journey and strengthen us.

He is with you.

Heart to Heart

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“For in the human heart the Kingdom of God can be contained.” Saint Seraphim

The human heart can contain the Kingdom of God.

This quote shook me to the core. I’ve read Luke 17:20-21 before, “the Kingdom of God is within you” – in fact, I’ve meditated on it and given talks about it. I’ve also thought a lot about Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has also set eternity in their heart.” Yet, never before did such a revelation occur to me as when I read this quote by Saint Seraphim.

Hardly do we notice God’s Grace in our lives, or thank Him for it, but I wonder how many of us have ever really understood the Grace by which our heart is designed to contain the Kingdom of God. This is a mystery that, above all other things, deserves our praise and thanksgiving.

Truly when God created humankind, he did it with the intention and foreknowledge of His manifestation through Jesus Christ – in that, he made it possible for us to become living temples of the Most High God. We hear it so often, we are created in the image of God – we are growing in His likeness. But do we understand? This is not a process of moral purification as so many of us believe; it is a real death of the old self and birth of new life made possible only by the dwelling of the Almighty God in His Kingdom, in our hearts.

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Because God made our hearts His house, I am able to be IN Christ. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except that you abide in Me” (John 15:4). Thus, our entire relationship with God, our most intimate union with Him, the death of the old self and transformation into His likeness, and the gift of living in heaven on earth are all dependant on His design of the human heart, which is capable of holding the Kingdom of God.

Nothing is then more worthy of praise, for what did we do to deserve such grand design? Does this not bring to life David’s words – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are your works; and that my soul knows well” (Psalm 139:14)? What could be more amazing than divine life dwelling inside a mortal body? It is proof that His intention from the beginning of our creation was (and still is) for us to live in unity with Him for eternity.

What does this mean for you and I? What have we to do with theology and divine design? Just about everything.

But first I want to talk about marriage. Your marriage. The greatest day of your life – perhaps I should say, eternal life. Everyday the Father and Son are knocking at your heart – they want to enter your heart and dine with you (Rev. 3:20). They want to build their Kingdom there, converse with you, and spend time in your presence. In your presence. Inside your heart. What is this dining with God, except a foretaste of our marriage supper with Him? For all of us, whether we realize what this means or not, will either marry our Lord Jesus Christ (there’s going to be an awesome ceremony and everything!!) and be in union with God for eternity…or the other option.

Think about the value of your heart in this light. Your heart was specifically designed to be the dwelling place of God – His Kingdom and dominion. Your heart is an eternal place – for where we are united with the everlasting God, we are living in eternity. Thus, your heart is where you can experience heaven now! Your heart is the site of your death and birth, whereby living in Him we are made new. Your heart is the source of divine life and presence. Your heart is where you are able to preview your marriage to Christ – your most beautiful and precious union with Him.

And this is what God desires, He created it after all.

“And you shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). Mother Basilea Schlink said that God’s first command is the one most broken, for the battle over our heart is the fiercest and the hardest to detect.

If God so desires our heart, our most important possession, how can we be so careless with it? Think about how recklessly and easily we give our hearts to others – people we don’t know or barely know, people who don’t reciprocate our affections, people who we know full well will mistreat it; break it; or use it for their own benefit, people who have not given Christ a real dwelling place in their own hearts. Why do we do this? I think it is because we have been deceived about the value of our heart – our very own value – and so we let people trample all over it. We let people tear down His throne and destroy His temple, our most intimate meeting place with Him, without so much as a second glance.

We all have different reasons for doing it. Perhaps our natural and god-given desire for acceptance and affirmation has been perverted into a desperate lust for these things. Lust must be fulfilled immediately and at all costs, so we sacrifice the dwelling place of only One who can truly satisfy these desires (for it is He who gave them to us) in search of cheap alternatives. Perhaps we have reached a certain age and our lives aren’t meeting what is socially and culturally expected of us, so we trade God’s kingdom for the first person who can ‘redeem’ us from our ‘condition’. We throw away real redemption and real relationship. Perhaps we are have been so hurt and rejected that we can’t even see our own worth – that God would choose to dwell in our hearts, and all of the beautiful meaning that comes with that reality, is completely lost on us. We are blind.

There are many understandable reasons for the careless disposal of our heart. But just because we can understand something, it does not make it right. We need to carefully examine our lives and how we are treating God’s Kingdom – we cannot expect Him to reign alongside others. What King would dwell in a city without walls where His people welcome attacks from the enemy, where His people basically hand Him over hostage?

Whether we realize it or not, we all want God to reign in our hearts. Everyone wants abundant joy, unshakeable peace, the fire of that first-love relationship – those are things that come from giving God full reign in His Kingdom. These things are the result of a King at work. A King uprooting and destroying weeds, replacing them with His Grace – humility; love; gentleness; patience; self-control; wisdom, is a King enthroned.

Let us begin by confessing our sin in being so careless with our hearts in the past. Let us repent from this by learning to protect it from evil, unnecessary pain and destruction, and giving Him all authority. We must carefully reflect and identify the source of our reckless behaviour and bring whatever unmet needs or desires we have to God daily in prayer (and even fasting). We must review our relationships and seek the truth in them – what is their purpose and how do they affect God’s reign in our heart? Each morning, let us pray for God to show us His desire for our heart. Each night, let us sit before God and ask if He truly ruled there. Let us allow Him to fulfill us before we pursue fulfillment by any other means.

We must also realize that this extends beyond ourselves and to all people. If we have not been aware of the extraordinary price of our own heart, it is more than likely that we have likewise treated other people’s hearts with contempt. How often have we used someone? How often have we purposely or vengefully hurt someone? How often do we disrespect others in our thoughts? Let us come to the realization that each of these things we have done, we have committed against the Kingdom of God that we are so desperate to know personally.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

This proverb has never made more sense to me than now. Let us make it our active purpose to guard our hearts and the hearts of others. Then we will truly be soldiers of the Lord – protecting His Kingdom and promoting His reign.

QOD: Divine Love

“Bridal love between two people has its place, but it should not be confused with divine love. The bridal state, fatherhood, and other such gifts which we know upon earth, are but dim likenesses and shadows of the true and real and eternal, which is above. Because there is such a thing as fatherhood in heaven, we can know something of it here on earth. All fatherhood upon earth derives its name and character from Him, the real Father. In the heavenly places there are throne and principalities (Col. 1:16), and therefore upon earth, fleeting and transient, are the shadows and likenesses of these heavenly realities. And because there is a Bridegroom in heaven – that is what Jesus called Himself (Matt. 9:15, 25:1) – and a Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and a Bride (Rev 19:7), therefore upon the earth there is such a thing as a bridal state. It is but a shadow of the reality. It is a part of this present world which is passing away; for in heaven one will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Love to Jesus therefore can never be put on the same level with what we may know about human love.”

Mother Basilea Schlink in Those Who Love Him

All things to all men

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The Fountain of the Father’s Goodness at Kanaan, Germany (kanaan.org)

This week I’ve had the amazing opportunity to spend some time in paradise on earth – otherwise known as Kanaan, the land of promise. I’m not speaking of Israel, I’m talking about Kanaan in Germany – the headquarters of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. Kanaan is a Christian interdenominational place of worship with a garden that is designed after biblical places in Israel: Mount Tabor, the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, the Jordan River, Jacob’s well, and the garden of Jesus’ suffering.

Whenever I feel burdened by the world, or I need to hear God’s voice more clearly, I find some way to retreat to a natural setting. I had no idea what I was getting myself into in traveling to Kanaan in Germany; in fact, this is my first time in Germany altogether! But I cannot tell you that any experience has been so necessary or so worth it. The joy of the sisters is infectious. The peace is palpable. The love of God is everywhere. It’s only day two of four and already my soul is feeling refreshed, restored, and fulfilled.

The most beautiful part of this experience has been to completely surrender myself to quiet time with Jesus – to let Him comfort and embrace me, reassure and love me. A lot has been revealed to me on how I relate to God, some of which I will share with you here.

At Kanaan there is a big fountain with seven taps around the bottom basin. Each tap is connected to a name for God that is written on the rim: Comfort, Love, Mercy, Goodness, Patience, Grace, and Faithfulness. It is called the Fountain of the Father’s Goodness and people are encouraged to drink from whatever tap they are in need of. I drank abundantly from each of them.

This fountain has become my favourite place to sit at Kanaan – you might think it would be in the Garden of Jesus’ suffering by the cross or the resurrection, but there is a reason why this fountain is so special to me. The Father’s Goodness is the key to our faith. If I doubt the Father’s love or goodness towards me, I will not be able to have the fullness of communion with Him. I will not trust Him. I will not surrender myself to His will. I will not accept my suffering or my cross. Why would I suffer for someone whose intentions are unclear at best, malicious at worst? Many times when we have been forsaken by loved ones, we project our rejection and hurt towards God. We lose the ability, or do not develop it – if such a trauma occurred when we were children, to accept and believe in the Father’s goodness and good intentions for our lives.

Faith, in essence, is being rooted and grounded in this belief of the Father’s love and goodness. David says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever” (Psalm 138:7-8). David’s confidence comes from his full assurance that God is working all things together in his life for good (Romans 8:28). It comes from a real intimacy with God, knowing Him in all of His different forms.

I will admit that this is an area in which I have particular difficulty – I would not claim faith as one of my gifts. To sit in front of this continuously bubbling fountain, visualizing God’s everlasting love and goodness towards me, was an incredible experience to say the least. To drink from it? Even better.

As I sat before the fountain for hours, it occurred to me that I’ve often held a very restricted and limited view of God. Only this year, as I have begun to know Him more intimately and personally, has it also expanded. You see, I have always known God as ‘God’ – however confusing that may sound. Now, I know Him as Jesus my Lord. I have known Jesus best as my Saviour, but now I am beginning to meet with Him as my Father. In the past couple of years, I have known Jesus as a Friend, but now I am coming to see Him as my Lover. I have tasted plenty of His mercy and patience, but now I also feel His comfort. I witness His faithfulness each day He does not give up on me. It is as though the sun is beginning to peak through dark clouds to light and warm up my whole heart – this is how I can best describe what it is to come to believe in the Father’s everlasting goodness.

He is all things to all men. Each of us, like puzzles, may be missing different pieces – some more than others – but God is one size fits all. Whatever it is that you need, it is contained in His love and goodness. Believing and abiding in His love are the only ways to contentment. The founder of Kanaan, Mother Basilea Schlink, wrote in Those Who Love Him: “Jesus’ love stands alone. No other can love as He loves. In no human love will you find the intense glow and power that you find in Jesus’ love. In no human love will you discover the depth and tenderness of our Lord Jesus. The most tender love of a bridegroom, the deepest love of a mother, is but a pale shadow of His love, for indeed such love finds its source in His love. No father, no mother, no bridegroom is so inventive and alert in love, bestowing blessing and good upon the beloved, as is Jesus.”

That is His desire – to bestow blessing and good upon us, His beloved. What is our desire? What is your desire? I pray for our only wish and longing to be to dwell continously in His infinite love. May comfort, mercy, goodness, patience, grace, faithfulness, and love be poured into your heart daily by the Holy Spirit and renewed each morning. May you come to know God in each of His forms of goodness personally in your life. May He be your all in all.