As a student I found that I learned best when ideas were presented in a story format. I could retain the information through stories because they created for me a visual image of the lesson. One of my favorite ones is the experiment with fleas in a glass jar. The fleas jump out the top as fleas often do. When a lid was placed on the jar they could no longer jump out and after a period of time the lid could be removed and they still would not jump out. (I bet you are itching to find out what this has to do with our readings today.)
Paul tells the Romans that “you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but a Spirit of adoption, through who we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The usual pattern for us is that we continue to fall back into slavery to sin although God sent His Son to remove the lid. We are slaves to sin because we fail to recognize the freedom that we have through Christ. Often I have people tell me that they don’t “feel” that God listens to them. They pray and seek God’s wisdom and direction yet things do not seem to be going in a direction that leads them to believe he cares.
We must understand that faith is not based on “feelings”. Feelings are real and important, but we cannot depend on emotions to define God’s presence in our lives. In the book, His Way; Father Ken Roberts says; “prayer that does not change us is not really prayer at all, no matter how good it feels”.
Paul gives us a big hint for our prayer when he introduces us to the idea of calling God, Abba. This very earthy word that means, papa. Calling God papa, or father, serves many purposes not the least of them being a realization that we are under the care of God.
Our prayers ought to change us even when we do not see our circumstances changing. Calling on our papa relaxes us and allows us to know that we are not always in control of what is going on around us, but with God’s help, we are responsible for how we act in our surroundings. We are to pray that no matter what is going on, we can rise above our situation.
Once in a while, when behaviorist watch the flea jar, a flea or two will figure it out and jump out when the lid is removed. May we all keep jumping (praying) no matter how many times we “feel” that it is of no use. Our papa has set us free; we are no longer slaves to sin.
Peace be with you,
Deacon Jeff Willard