As young children, we have all have had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night and calling out to our parents, “Dad/Mom! Can I sleep with you?” They would call back, “Yeah, come; but bring your own pillow.” We would go running in dragging our pillow, jump in bed, and fall back asleep.
We knew that when we cried out they would be there. They would answer, and the answer was always yes. Every time we cried out, “Dad/Mom!” something deep within them was bearing witness that they were our parents and we were their children. Something deep within us was bearing witness to a relationship of love, intimacy, trust, and faithfulness. Our crying out did not create that relationship, it revealed the relationship that already was. Our calling out was evidence or testimony of something they and us both knew, and experienced deep within ourselves.
St. Paul says the same thing is true about us and God. We have already received a spirit of adoption. Something deep within us, something beyond logic, explanation, and understanding, knows that God is our Father and we are his sons and daughters. When we cry out, “Abba! Father!” we are like a young child calling, “Daddy!” Those are not just our words, however. They are also the words of God’s Spirit bearing witness that we are the Father’s children, joint heirs with Christ.
To cry out, “Abba! Father!” is to claim and seek our birth from above. It means that we take our place in the life of the Holy Trinity. In the mystery of Trinitarian life all that we are and all that we have become one shared life. We are forever opening ourselves to receive the life of another and pouring ourselves out into the live of another.“Abba! Father!” does not simply describe who God is, but also how God is.