"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together."
What I love about this is the reference to our Spirit, which cries out "Abba, Father" - literally, "Daddy, Father!" I can't exactly pinpoint in my life when it happened, but a few years ago, I started praying to God as Daddy and not as a stiff, disconnected Father. I mean, who calls their own father, "Father." It's stiff and formal, right? For me, this change in the way I saw my Heavenly Father was around the same time Paige Allen preached a sermon about being "daughters of inheritance" and not "daughters of reward."
What this means is that I am already a daughter, I am already accepted in the Beloved. I am saved by grace through faith, which for some reason is easier for me to accept than the fact that as a daughter, I don't have to earn God's love through works.
I have always been such a pleaser, and similarly, I think I approached God this way. I would think his love were conditioned, as if he were pleased by my good behavior and turned away by my bad behavior. Now, I am not saying God's heart isn't grieved when we sin, but His love is unchanging, unconditional. (I'm told I'll understand this better when I have kids of my own...)
The most radical thing God ever told me in my journey to calling Him and seeing Him as Abba is how much he loved me. I'll never forget it. I was at our ranch in Dickens on a Thursday afternoon, and I desperately needed God to speak to me. He said,
"Laura, you are my daughter, and I love you so much. Do you know how much I love you? Nothing you do can ever add to or take away from my love for you. It is already infinite."
Wow. It is already infinite! When I got ahold of the truth that nothing I do adds to His love for me and nothing I do takes away from His love for me, it changed my heart. As someone who feels guilty a lot, who fears upsetting someone else a lot, or who worries what someone else might think if I do this or that - this message for me was so freeing. If I pray every day for an hour, God loves me. If I don't pray for a week, God still loves me.
And for some reason, with this freedom, I was more inclined to serve Him, to obey Him, to please Him. Not because I felt guilty, not because I needed to earn His love or grace again. But because I was falling in love, too. I was free to fall in love in a relationship that's not conditioned; I was free to fall in love because of the powerful way He loved me first.