In “normal times”, my pre-school children love their weekly music group, where they get to sing and dance in themed sessions. If you want a recommendation for it, do ask me.
But I digress. We have a CD at home with some of the songs on it, one of which is “Everyone Needs Hugs”. It’s been playing most of this week.
You don’t need to agree strongly with the name of the song to agree on this: there have been fewer hugs to go around in recent weeks.
Social distancing means that, even if we’re able to see loved ones, we need to stay at a distance from them. Social bubbles have been introduced especially to help those people, some of whom live alone, who haven’t been able to come within 2 metres of anyone else for nearly 3 months.
One person told me recently they had really missed hugs.
And, with “Everyone Needs Hugs” playing in the background, I happened to read the Parable of the Lost Son this week. Some call him the Prodigal.
And here’s the point: in this story, God tells us he wants us to picture his compassion as… an incredibly enthusiastic hug. Given by him, to us.
Luke 15:20 tells us of a father watching out for his rebellious and runaway son, who is now finally returning home. It says:
“While (the son) was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
This verse reveals so much about the character of God. He is like this father.
Firstly, he has not turned his back on the world. Like the father longing to see the son come home, he is watching out, longing for people to come home to him.
Secondly, though the father has every reason to accuse the son (who wanted the father dead – see Luke 15:12), he is instead filled with compassion. Compassion for the both the son’s reckless living and his unfortunate circumstances. Compassion for both the son being guilty and being victim.
Thirdly, it shows the father doing all the legwork of running to his son – even in a hot climate. There is no demand made of the son on his return. Only love shown. Just as, in Jesus Christ, God shows his love for us and opens up the way for us to call him Father.
And all of this is then encapsulated in – a hug. The father threw his arms around the son and kissed him.
Everyone needs this hug. Whether you’re hug-less in the last 3 months or not, whether you like the image or it’s a bit too fluffy for you, everyone needs to know that God reaches out to hug us. Enthusiastically. Lovingly. To bring security to us, in knowing Him.
The only thing we need to do is turn in the right direction and start the journey home. Jesus was telling the story so that people would turn to him, to Jesus – and experience the Father’s love.
If this is new to you, then get in touch. I’d love to send you a gospel – an account of Jesus’ life – to help you turn in the right direction.
And if it’s not new because of your faith in Jesus… then can I ask you to allow it to be new again? God really does love us. Enthusiastically. Compassionately.
Allow the thought of that hug to fill you up and strengthen you today.
With love in Christ,