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Authors: Brennan Manning

Tags: #Christian Life, #Spiritual Growth, #Christianity, #God, #Grace, #Love

Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

BOOK: Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
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Abba’s Child
is not a book
—it’s a love letter. Brennan’s words wrap you in God’s love and lullaby you to sleep in the warmth of his grace. After reading this book, I wanted to race into my father’s arms and jump into his lap, giggling, “I’m home, Daddy, I’m home.”


Author of
Dangerous Wonder

The writing of Brennan Manning reaches out, grabs us, and pulls us in.
Abba’s Child
is a book that leaps from the tower of theory and plunges deeply into the stuff of life, the stuff that each of us grapples with on a daily basis. Facing our own reality is painful, traumatic, and ultimately redemptive, as Brennan Manning so artfully illustrates.


The Vista Grande Company

Honest. Genuine. Creative. God hungry. These words surface when I think of the writings of Brennan Manning. Read him for yourself
—you’ll see what I mean!


New York Times
bestselling author

With prophetic zeal, Brennan speaks to our heart’s deepest longing and manages to keep the focus on the One who meets it. Hearing, really hearing, this message
—that we “belong”
—has and will continue to revolutionize lives.


Founder, NewWay Ministries

NavPress is the publishing ministry of The Navigators, an international Christian organization and leader in personal spiritual development. NavPress is committed to helping people grow spiritually and enjoy lives of meaning and hope through personal and group resources that are biblically rooted, culturally relevant, and highly practical.

For a free catalog go to

Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

Copyright © 1994, 2002, 2015 by Brennan Manning. All rights reserved.

A NavPress resource published in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

and the NAVPRESS logo are registered trademarks of NavPress, The Navigators, Colorado Springs, CO.
is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Absence of
in connection with marks of NavPress or other parties does not indicate an absence of registration of those marks.

Designed by Stephen Vosloo

Cover illustration copyright © Charlie Mackesy. All rights reserved.

Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Literary Agency, 7680 Goddard St., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from
The Jerusalem Bible
, copyright © 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd., and Doubleday & Company, Inc. Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible,
New International Version
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the New American Standard Bible,
copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real situations, and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental.

Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

ISBN 978-1-63146-395-2

Build: 2015-04-08 14:27:40












Preface to the 2015 Edition

Preface to the 2002 Edition

A Word Before

1: Come Out of Hiding

2: The Impostor

3: The Beloved

4: Abba’s Child

5: The Pharisee and the Child

6: Present Risenness

7: The Recovery of Passion

8: Fortitude and Fantasy

9: The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

Internalizing the Book: Guide for Group Study


About the Author


Abba’s Child
with one purpose in mind: to recover the passion that fired my desire to enter the seminary and seek ordination to the priesthood. In the process I discovered that all I wanted from the years of silence and study was to fall in love with God.

After a luncheon with John Eames, then publisher at NavPress, and editorial consultant Liz Heaney in Estes Park, Colorado, I was humbled and gratified by the encouragement they offered to finish the book. Later, Kathy Yanni Helmers brought both professional expertise and a like passion for the Lord that left me more satisfied with a finer redaction than any book I’ve ever published.

Next, my heartfelt thanks to Lillian Robinson, M.D., and Arthur Epstein, M.D., who guided me through darkness to daylight at a very difficult time in my personal life.

—Brennan Manning



To be nobody-but-yourself
—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else
—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

these words from E. E. Cummings introduced the preface. This quote and the book that followed spoke to me deeply. In
Abba’s Child
, Manning calls attention to a battle for identity that’s fought nearly every hour of every day of our lives
—a war that’s almost completely unacknowledged and yet of extreme importance. Who am I? What is my place in the world? As humans, we are always looking for our true identity against the noisy backdrop of our time. Am I defined by my occupation? My preferences? My passions? My true identity cannot be defined for me. Even the most meaningful moments in politics or music are still not enough to anchor me. And yet as I struggle to define myself in this world, my identity can never come from within. My actions, my art, even my beliefs
—all of these need to be rooted in soil other than myself.

And so we begin the solitary journey toward discovering our unique identity. Manning employs a chorus of wise voices who reassure me that though this road may be a lonely one, it is not mine to walk alone. Spiritual giants who have passed this way before have left guideposts along the way, reminding me that I cannot be defined by ever-changing seasons around me, nor can I be guided only by the voices within. Rather, my identity must continue to be found in the love of my Creator Himself. I am loved. Deeply loved. And when I let that love define who I am, I am suddenly free to be myself.

In my songs I’m always looking for light. I’m looking for a window
or a mirror
—something to frame my experience here on the planet in a new way that allows me to see the truth. Why am I always looking for these windows and doors? Because my ears become deaf, my eyes become blind. I desperately need new ways of looking at the world and at myself. I have a friend who is a visual artist. He defines “the artist” not as someone who creates beauty but as someone who looks for it. And to that end I would say a good songwriter does the same thing: hoping for more than just a new chorus, longing to be free from the same old patterns, to be transformed by the renewing of the mind moment by moment, day by day.

There are far too many voices within my head telling me to quit, telling me to abandon, to find an easier way, to ignore the pain, or to choke it down. To find a book with a host of other voices singing back was a joy. When I first read
Abba’s Child
a few years back, I had to write a song in response. So I wrote a tune called “Against the Voices,” directly inspired by the words of Manning, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, E. E. Cummings, Julian of Norwich, and the host of others whom Brennan Manning employs.

If this is your first time reading this book, I’m honored to introduce you to it. I pray that Brennan Manning and the timeless voices of the other thinkers quoted within this book might offer you hope. May they remind you that you are loved by the Father-Creator Himself. May they sing and speak into your life against the voices that tell you otherwise.

Jon Foreman, lead singer for Switchfoot


Preface to the 2015 Edition

Keep practicing until it lives inside you;

then it will seem foolishly easy

to the unpracticed.


say they love all their children equally, just differently. That’s true, and maybe not true. I believe some parents have favorites
—they just do. And I believe the favorites know who they are.

When it comes to the books written by my friend Brennan Manning, it would be tempting to say “I love them all, just differently.” But that’s not true. I have a favorite

Abba’s Child
. It was the first of his books I read, my introduction to the ragamuffin man, and maybe that’s why it means so much to me
—you know, “first love” and all that. Then again, my affection for this book may have to do with the fact that after reading all of his books multiple times, and having the privilege of personally working with him on a handful of his final manuscripts, including cowriting his memoir, I believe the words in this book reveal his heart. They are the
of Brennan Manning. I realize that’s a bold statement, but there you have it.

Most writers have a central theme, and all their writings are usually some variation on that theme. While some might say Brennan’s theme is the grace of God, I would disagree: It is letting yourself be loved by God. In one of our final conversations, I asked, “Brennan, are you letting God love you?” His reply was classic Brennan: “I’m trying.” That’s why I
began this preface with those words from the late Bill Holm
—because letting God love him was something Brennan “kept practicing” throughout his years. What may have appeared “foolishly easy” to those who knew him from the distance of books was far from it. He kept practicing until the very end.

You’ll read of “the impostor” in these pages, probably the chapter generating the most discussion since
Abba’s Child
was published in 1994. Even now, in the autumn of 2014, that chapter is worth the price of admission. The impostor still runs amok today, aided and abetted by the online-Facebook-Twitter-Instagrammy lives we live.

The impostor prompts us to attach importance to what has no importance, clothing with a false glitter what is least substantial and turning us away from what is real. The false self causes us to live in a world of delusion. . . . The impostor demands to be noticed. His craving for compliments energizes his futile quest for carnal satisfaction. His bandages are his identity. Appearances are everything.

See what I mean? Good grief. Please don’t hear me saying the Internet is the culprit here. But the Internet does speed things up, presenting lightning-fast challenges to acceptance and approval and suppression and emotional honesty, just to name a few. If the game of pretense and deception used to be at a gallop, we now play at warp speed. Into this rushing stream, Brennan’s plea is evergreen: Live by grace and not by performance. In other words
—let God love you. And should you see me out and about somewhere and ask me how I’m personally doing with that, I would answer as my friend so often did: I’m trying.

—John Blase

SEPTEMBER 15, 2014

BOOK: Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
11.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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