Intimacy with Abba
My eyes burst open at the sound and as they adjusted to the darkness, I glanced at my phone–it was 3:30am. Only one thought raced through my hyper-alert mind, “Your adventure awaits.” Before my eyes closed that very same day, I was in a new bed with a new family in a new city in a new country. Antigua, Guatemala—my new home for the 15 weeks which followed. Fifteen weeks that radically transformed me. I never would have learned as much as I did about who God is, who I am, or how the world is if I hadn’t studied abroad in Guatemala.
If you had asked me to pray to God using an intimate name like “Dad”, “Daddy”, or “Abba” I maybe would have done so but I would have felt like a hypocrite, I would have felt awkward and uncomfortable. I knew I desired to go deeper, to be closer, to draw nearer to God but didn’t exactly know how to. For the three months that I was in Guatemala I only had ONE believer with me—my roommate and best friend on the program, Katie Floyd. I only encountered two other believers in the 4 months that I was in Central America. One was Katie’s Spanish teacher and the other was the fuel tank trucker, Hugo, who drove me to the airport in Belize. Being ripped from community and from a family of believers back in the States knocked the breath out of me and I fell flat on my face. It took me a few weeks to understand how great of a blessing being devoid of Christian community was.
Before coming to Guatemala I knew God great in group settings. I could pray and really connect and feel His presence when I was with other believers whether in church, worshipping together, praying with someone else, or in Cru. I quickly realized that when it came to talking to God on a personal, individual level alone in my room I was incredibly uncomfortable and rarely prayed on my own. Yet while in Guatemala, I had no accountability for my actions. Katie didn’t consistently ask me if I had been reading my Bible, if I had been praying, or what I was learning from God.
And for the first time in my life, I understood something. We all know that relationships take work, but for some reason I never thought that my relationship with my Father needed any work. (Something wasn’t quite lining up, huh?) I needed discipline and I knew that the relationship that Christ died for was worth the effort. It was worth the time it took to read my Bible before breakfast every day at 6:30am and before I went to bed. It was worth the effort it took to pray in the midst of a day of severe doubt. I knew that intimacy was something I was missing and something I hadn’t realized I needed because I had been wrongfully using community as a replacement for intimacy with Abba. I was so uncomfortable with being intimate with my Father because I felt that if I admitted to Him some things (that he alreadyknew, of course) that I would be viewed lesser, I was ashamed. That if, somehow, I didn’t admit them to Him then I didn’t have to deal with them—that it was okay to just leave them sitting on the highest shelf of my mind, covered in piles of dust. I learned that shame is one of the Enemy’s best tactics from keeping us believers from walking in our full potential—realizing that we are genuinely free through Christ.
For three months in Guatemala and then an additional three weeks in Belize, I really only had Jesus pouring into me. Katie was able to offer some guidance and we talked a few things out but God was really working on some things with Katie that I was able to talk through with her. We hear all the time that Jesus is all you need and it’s honestly so true. He was the ONLY thing that refueled, revived, and renewed me when I was encompassed in darkness—and Guatemala is shrouded in a veil of ancient lies that have permeated the vast expanses of culture. He poured into me through the pages of my Bible and through intimate times of prayer and worship. He is my Comforter, Best Friend, Teacher, Lover, and Father. I could write pages and pages on what my Dad has taught me the past four months and I am so grateful for His kindness and patience throughout my many ups and downs.
I could talk about being painfully humbled or about the day where I doubted the literal existence of God. I could tell you how He built me up daily or how I endured my first real, pungent taste of persecution. I can declare to you now who Christ says I am and how I no longer want to plan my life away or schedule away all of my time but I’ll leave you with this…The most vital lesson to my faith walk and my life as a believer has been cultivating intimacy with my Father. And by no means am I close to where I would like to be, which of course is as close to the Father as possible. But that’s what is so great about our God—He’s all about the process because the process is where we draw near to Him and He draws near to us. The beauty of learning more about our God is that the more we know, the more we want to continue knowing about him. The magnificence of this is that there is alwaysmore to know, closer to be, and deeper insights into the God who never ends.
Here is one verse I love which encourages intimacy:
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” –Matthew 6:6 ESV
Take time and get to know your Dad in the raw and the real, just the two of you.