Last weekend I was at Scholastic in Duluth working with the sisters particiapting in our spiritual direction program. Sister Jean gave us the assignment of writing a letter to God, giving us a self-addressed envelope that would be sent to us during the next week. When I addressed my letter to “Abba” Father, I began to weep. For a brief time I was not able to stop. I realized, as a result of that unexpected experience, that I had truly come know God as my “Abba” Father. I recalled Brennan Manning referring to his “Abba” experience as the most profound of his life. I am truly grateful to God, for beinig so merciful and gracious to me on my spiritual journey, so that I might know him as my “Abba.” To know God as “Abba’ is to experience an intimacy with God that is beyond words. It is a knowing of the heart. I believe that our Heavenly Father desires all his children to know him as their “abba.”
Coming to an awareness of this relationship is not an achievement or the result of being seen as more worthy then other fellow travelers on the journey. It is sheer grace and gift. Awareness of our neediness of intimacy with God and our desire for relationship with Him is the one qualification. This desire is a natural part of our spiritual DNA, put there by our heavenly Father. He desires our friendship. Jesus is the means of fullfilling this desire. Think of its as coming home to the place you were always meant to be. Jesus tells us, “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself. I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen” (Matt 11:27 – The Message). Jesus has promised us to continue to make the Father know in his prayer for us in John 17. “I have made your very being know to them – Who you are and what you do – and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them exactly as I am in them” (John 17:26 – The Message).
In my letter to God, I committed myself to be an instrument to be used by “Abba” in any way that he sees fit to help other men know thier heavenly Father as Abba. A “wildman” is a man who has come to peace in the presence of his heavenly Father. This means an awareness of knowing his is a child in the loving care of his Abba. Understanding a wildman as a child seems like a counterdiction. But remember the words of Jesus in Matt. 18:3-4, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” I recall the words of Twila Paris song from some years ago entitled, “The warrior is a child.” To the world this just does not make sense. But for a man who is becoming a wildman it makes perfect sense. Only when I give up and surrender to Abba do I experience the strength to be a wildman. Remember the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” ( II Cor 12:9). A man vulnerable before God is given strength to be strong. That is the posture of a wildman.