FREE HUGS

“. . . they will call him Immanuel” Matthew 1:23

Tomorrow will be a tough and trying day for many.  As their pastor and friend I want to be there for the King family.  Not to offer any major advice or promise God’s blessings because even to me it seems like “God somehow missed it” on this one. At the same time, I am thankful that we have our faith and hope during this time of great need and questions. (THE KING’S STORY CAN BE FOUND HERE)

A while back during the Christmas season at Istoria, I offered the following and thought it only fitting for now:

The question is: where is God in all my mess? God is with us.

Emmanuel is a combination of Hebrew words meaning, “God with us”.  Emmanuel means that God came and dwelt among us, so that we might feel and know that He was near us and was one of us. Emmanuel means that God is with us in all situations: pain, unemployment, divorce, bankruptcy, poverty, illness, surgery, hurt, cancer, and yes, even death. Emmanuel means that even in such situations God surrounds us with His love, His presence, and His Spirit. Emmanuel means that even in such situations we are not left on our own in our pain, hate, anger, fear, or hurt.

Psalms 23, tells us “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
That’s Emmanuel!

Matthew 28:20 says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
That’s Emmanuel!

Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That’s Emmanuel!

BUT . . .  we’re human . . . He’s God. He was here as a human but now He’s gone. When we’re going through hard times it seems like He’s not there – He has forgotten us or is playing hard to get.

It’s normal and human to feel lonely, depressed, and hurting.  But who or what do you run to when the messy is at its messiest?!

Shortly after the death of her father-in-law, a friend of our ministry asked me. “So, is it wrong to be mad at God and ask Him why?” This is something I have been asked by others. This is something that I have asked myself.

There’s another man in the Bible who often asked these tough questions and told God how he really felt. He was David also known as “the man after God’s own heart.”

Psalm 28 “To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help . . . . ( A FEW VERSES LATER!?) Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

Why was there a change of heart? What happened in the “in between”? I believe it was HUG time! When we bring our tragedies, our pain, our hurts to HIM – WE ARE BRINGING THEM TO THE RIGHT PLACE!

The HUG Poem by Bradley Hathaway
I read about how you touched them and they were healed
Or even if someone just touched your cloak they were forever changed
You let a broken women bathe your feet in her tear
And you washed your best friend’s feet
I am just wondering though did you just ever hug people?

I mean I know that it is a silly question and all I am sure you would have why wouldn’t you
But its one of those things that was never mentioned that got me thinking about it

And how whenever there was a touch from you sins were forgiven and sickness fell
I think I’m caught up in my sins last time I checked all my body parts were properly working, nothing special here

I am just a kid with a heavy heart these passing sunrises and sunsets
I don’t think our encounter would have ended up in the gospels or anything
Because all I really need is a hug

That is ok for me to imagine right?
That’s not going to be conflicting with any sort of theology is it

Ok good, then hug me

But not one of these side ways one arm around the neck type hugs
Or the ghetto right hand clasp fists elbows to chest pit pat on the back back
Or you put your right arm over my right arm and I put my left arm over your left arm
and we make this weird sort of diagonal thing

Nah none of those

BEAR HUG ME MAN

Take your old school carpenter arms and throw them over my upper body leaving my arms dangling underneath yours somewhere and I can barely move them because your squeezing so hard

But don’t pick me up and make my back pop because I hate it when people do that

And hold me, hold me here in your arms until I start to cry because
I WANT TO CRY
But I just can’t seem to do it on my own

I have been teary eyed once recently but not even enough for a drip down my cheek
There’s just hurt in my soul that needs to be purged so hold me in this hold pose until the pain is flowing from my eyes and nose
END

Sad to say, even if we’ve been comforted by God before – at times, it doesn’t seem to be enough!! And Jesus knew that once He went back to heaven that we’d be missing the personal touch of a Savior, so he had a plan – He always does!!

When Jesus went back to heaven, he didn’t leave a monument, a castle, a prince, a museum BUT  he asked US to continue his mission – that the kingdom, abundant life and love be seen through US!!

After feeling depressed and lonely as a result of numerous personal difficulties, a young man in Sydney, Australia received a random hug from a stranger and it made an enormous difference. In his words, “…I went out to a party one night and a completely random person came up to me and gave me a hug. I felt like a king! It was greatest thing that ever happened.

He got the idea to carry a “FREE HUGS” sign and offer hugs to others who might need an encouraging hug. His first attempt was in his hometown. He returned returned to find that he was the only person he knew, as his friends and family had moved away, he had to wait fifteen minutes before an elderly lady came up to him and gave him a hug.

At first people distrusted his motives but that eventually gave way to a gradual increase of people willing to be hugged – others began to join in and offer free hugs themselves.. Authorities tried to stop the FREE HUGS campaign and tell him that he must have public liability insurance. But that did not stop him and many signed a petition to allow the hugging to continue.

National fame; however, wasn’t what he was looking for. His name? Juan Mann.  He was just “Juan Mann” making a difference in the lives of others!!

The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-8: “My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love.”

In Luke 17:21 Jesus tell us that when we join Him on the journey that “the kingdom is within us!” Jesus prayed for his kingdom to “come to earth.” Maybe we just didn’t think He was serious? He was!

Christ was God COME TO US – to give us a hug – when He went back to heaven. He left us behind and asked us to be “little Christs” and make a difference!

A 1997 Apple ad campaign read: ”Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

I say AMEN and it can be done – One HUG at a time!

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