Have you seen any "attaways" recently?

I've heard they're a species near extinction? Some of us have given one to those we love, but odds are, we haven't given enough of them. Yet we all need an "attaway" every-now-and-then. Unfortunately there don't seem to be enough of them to go around right now.

How do I know? Look into the eyes of those around you. Notice the lack of security in so many hearts. See the hesitation and doubt in the lives of those who work around you. So many people second-guess what they are doing and are so afraid of failing.

We live in an incredibly negative and competitive society. The result has been a serious decline in the number of "attaways." So much so that in most places, "attaways" are on the endangered species list. This is a serious problem because marriages, families, and workplaces are severely compromised in their effectiveness, joy, and productivity because of the decline in "attaways" given.

Yet even with "attaways" being in such short supply, some folks seem to be able to find them and share them. My wife Donna is one of those people. She is an incredible scavenger for "attaways" and gives them away generously. She seems to be able to find them when many other folks cannot. In fact, I learned the importance of "attaways" from her. Even though a few had been given to me when I was a kid in sports, it took a loving wife and fantastic elementary reading teacher to help me really understand how important "attaways" are. She's even helped me learn to find them.

You probably want to ask, "What in the world is an 'attaway'?"

I'm sure you've seen one given. Hopefully you've received more than a few yourself. In fact, I bet you've even shared a few "attaways" with someone else in your time.

"Attaway to go! You really did a great job on that project!"

"Attaway to be, you're wonderful!"

You may have even heard the related versions of the "attaway" affirmation, "attaboy" and "attagirl." "Attaboy, great job on that project!" "Attagirl, way to hang in there through tough times and succeed!"

I guess I never really saw the theological importance of "attaways" until I read the story of the baptism of Jesus for the jillionth time. I was doing a graduate study of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts and was focusing on the significance of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus. I had studied the theological implications of Jesus' baptism in Luke: it is the inauguration of Jesus' ministry, it is the fulfillment of the enthronement Psalms, it is Jesus entering into his role as God's Messiah, it is the hand-off of John the Baptizer's ministry to Jesus ... and other things as well.

Yet as I was thinking about "attaways" recently, I remembered Jesus' baptism. God's words to his Son are a great example of an "attaway":

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21-22 TNIV).

In saying these words, God affirmed his relationship with Jesus ("You are my Son ..."), affirmed his love for Jesus ("... whom I love ..."), and his pleasure in his Jesus' actions ("... with you I am well pleased."). What's more, he did it to prepare Jesus for the battle with Satan that was about to take place in the desert. Remember what the first thing the Evil One says to Jesus in the temptation? "If you really are the Son of God ..."

"Attaway to go, you've got it!"
Jesus could have confidently replied, "Not so fast Satan, I've got that one nailed down. I'm God's beloved Son who gives him joy. He just told me this at my baptism."

A similar thing happens to Jesus just before his final trip to Jerusalem:

"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5).

Jesus goes into his most important and heartbreaking battle with a divine "attaway" from his Father!

So if first graders need an "attaway" giving teacher to learn to read and if Jesus needed an "attaway" giving Father before he faced his greatest trials, then our loved ones and coworkers need them, too!

"Attaway to go, you've got it!" So now that you know what an "attaway" is, why not start looking to share them! Incredibly, this nearly extinct species reproduces fastest and thrives in an environment where they are frequently shared with others!