It’s Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, Missouri, and God feels rather far away at the moment. I lay back and close my eyes, terribly needing sleep, yet not really wanting to doze, pondering this predicament. Pastor preached this morning on prayer and on the fact that those who have become the sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son, have the right to call God “Abba Father”—the equivalent of “Daddy” in one of the Bible languages. But right now I do not feel close to him, and my own father is far away in another state. So, I close my eyes and remember moments that were very different than today is:

It’s bedtime in Union City, California—bedtime on a terrible night when nothing is going my way. I hate life right now, and life hates me. All feels hopeless. I’ve just been “talked to” by both of my parents for not accomplishing the things I am supposed to accomplish. I’ve just written all the angry thoughts I can write as I sit on my bed waiting for sleep. My prayers seem to rise to the ceiling only to condense there and return upon my head rejected. Then the rain begins, a quiet, gentle rain that seems to be crying my tears for me. Slowly it soothes my turbulent 16-year-old heart, and I am able to sleep, comforted by the very hand that I thought was against me. Maybe everything will really be ok after all—even though I still have to face the morrow.

It’s nearly midnight in Union City, California—a summer midnight with the heat of the day being slowly cooled by the breeze that wafts through the open sliding glass door. I lie on my stomach on the floor facing out through the closed screen door, feeling the night air on my cheeks. All the lights are off in the house. The stars (such as can be seen from the city floor) are out. The crickets are chirping softly and occasionally. All is still, and it seems natural to talk to God. What do I talk about? The little nothings that an 18-year-old girl can think of at the moment. And He speaks in the stillness, not saying much but letting me know that I am loved.

It’s nearly midnight in Union City, California, and my dad sits at the computer playing solitaire while I sit cross-legged on the floor beside him, talking and listening. What do we talk about? Things that a 20-year-old college student needs to talk to her dad about. Sometimes it’s about nothing really, sometimes it’s profoundly earnest. And I feel safe and loved and privileged for having time with my dad.

It’s just after dusk in Rapid City, South Dakota—a hot summer day giving way to a deliciously warm summer night with a warm breeze that scents the whole sky with clover. I can’t get enough of the breeze, and as I walk, I stretch out my arms as though to hug the whole night that God has given me. And I can feel His smile on me as though He made this night just for me to tell me how much He loves me. I walk with my cousins and we talk about the things that 21-year-old girls talk about, things serious and deep, catching up from the time we’ve been apart and trying to solve all of the world’s problems on such a beautiful night.

It’s mid-day in San Leandro, California, and I sit in my father’s office amid all of the paraphernalia of his busy job as an administrator in a Christian school. Most students dread going to the principal’s office because it means that they are in trouble, but I sit there delighted to have these moments with my dad. He’s still my father even though I am all grown up and out on my own. I still need to be near him, still need to share time and talk with him, still need the reassurance that his presence brings to my life.

It’s bed-time now in St. Louis, Missouri, and things aren’t making much sense sometimes these days. But it’s nice to know that I can—because I trust in Jesus Christ God’s Son as my Savior—come before God as my Abba Father. And I take comfort in the fact that someday my life will be made up of one great big Abba Father moment. What’s an “Abba Father Moment”? It’s one of those moments when I could feel that God was near me, a moment when I could walk a little by sight instead of just by faith, enjoying that feeling of being near Him, sharing the peace and beauty He had created right then just for me. In Heaven every moment will be an Abba Father moment.