This past weekend my husband and I attended an event at our church called "Freedom Encounter". On Saturday, after listening to a teaching on forgiving the wounds of inflicted by parents, we made our way up to the front along with other members of the prayer team to stand in as proxy for those who needed to give their parents a hug. I have to tell you, it was a very emotional experience as a number of people came forward to lay down their hurts so that they could truly forgive.
At one point, a man, probably not much older than our own son, approached us. The moment he touched us, he began to sob uncontrollably clinging to the two of us and we in turn, held him tightly as well. We had been told to allow the hugger to release the hug, rather than break it ourselves and that is exactly what he did.
This man cried his heart out for quite awhile as we simply prayed and allowed the love of God to flow through us and embrace him. At last, his weeping subsided and the peace of God flooded his face. Wiping his eyes, he gave both of us another hug, whispered thank you in a chocked voice and returned to his seat. That was on Saturday. On Monday night my husband heard the rest of the story as the man gave his testimony about that weekend.
He had been in the military for nine years and had seen in his words, "too much death". He had also lost members of his family and never, ever cried until he did so on Saturday afternoon in the arms of me and my husband and more importantly, in the arms of God.
His story makes me think of those terrible days when I was undergoing chemotherapy. Do you know what comforted me the most? The human touch. Every time someone would touch me and better yet, hug me, their love and compassion towards me would not only wash over me, it would envelop me. I was still suffering, I was still in pain but suddenly it became bearable because someone had just confirmed that they cared. I was loved.
Too often we get it backwards. We want to preach at people, correct them, tell them to get straightened out and then we will "hug" them. How can they ever believe that God loves them if we don't? We must not underestimate the healing power in a hug. We must go out into the world, not with a clenched fist but with open arms, ready to love, ready to minister to the broken and hurting people around us. We must be willing to embrace them and allow them to cry in our arms and then take them to the One who loves them most, the One who came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captive free.