December 24, 2009

The greatest Gift

My father died ten years ago this morning. He’d been ill for three weeks and at least one of us four children were with him twenty-four seven. The end came early in the morning, fitting because my Dad had a habit of waking everyone up early in the morning. We had two funerals, one where he’d farmed the last half his life, and the other in the community he’d farmed the first half prior to moving. In the midst of that, we also celebrated Christmas, something Dad would have wanted us to do.

So much of what happened during those few days gave evidence of God’s expertise in timing. My devotional readings during those days gave comfort. The weather was decent. My mother, even with Alzheimers, was healthy and coherent. There was sorrow, but Dad knew Jesus and we knew that he was in a better place. Our Christmas was quiet but very much blessed.

God’s timing is important. It takes the lead in today’s verses as they describe the first Christmas and the reason that Jesus came. This reason gives me comfort and joy every day, not just Christmas. God continues to comfort us concerning our parents who are now both with Him, and gives us much joy as we spend time with Christian family and friends.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born  of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
God’s timing was right. He sent Jesus into the world through a virgin birth and into a culture steeped in the history of His dealings with them. The Jewish people knew the high standards of God. Those who were honest and humble also knew that they could not keep His Law. They looked forward to a Redeemer who would save them from their sins.

They perhaps didn’t know that the promised Redeemer would do more than that. He would also release them from the bondage of trying to keep a Law that was too lofty and adopt them as His own children. Those who believe in Jesus would become God’s sons and daughters and be placed in a spiritual family.

The word “Abba” is an endearing term. The commentaries say that it was used to address God in prayer. However, many say that it also means “Daddy.” Imagine that — calling God Almighty both Father and Daddy!

Not everyone has been blessed with the loving father that I had, so this verse and the privilege may not give everyone the same sense of awe. Yet as I think of Jesus coming to earth so I could be set free and become a child of God, I am overjoyed to be able to call Him “Abba, Father.” If Christmas is about gifts, then this is the greatest gift of all.

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