Emma speaks very well. I don’t know too many toddlers her age that can use probably and identical in correct context in a sentence…”My mommy will probably get it for me” (ironically used after daddy told her no :)) and “My fingernails are identical” (as she holds up her freshly painted nails that big sis Makayla did for her). That said, she never says “hold me” when she wants to be held. She always says “hold you”, as in, “Hold you, Daddy.” The thing is, she always seems to want to be held when I’m right in the middle of something.
Thus she was right on schedule when I was in the kitchen making dinner a few days ago, and she wanted me to pick her up. In the midst of making lemon-garlic chicken, garlic bread, a Caesar salad and cellantani (twisty) pasta with a poblano-alfredo sauce she hit me with it. As any loving father would, I stopped what I was doing and cheerfully obliged her.
So how did that move me to write this post? Follow along. When I scooped her up in my arms, I was immediately struck by how good it felt…and how good it must have felt to her. You see, I don’t just hug. I clutch. I’m a kind of power-hugger. It’s not a bear hug, per se. It’s more of a grab that let’s you know I’ve got you, and I really feel something for you. Let me clarify something here, however. When I’m doing a bro-hug, (the handshake/hug that good guy friends use when they see each other) they don’t get the same feeling :D. The other thing that crossed my mind when I held Emma was how awesome it feels to be held by God.
I first felt His embrace in 1999. That’s when my first daughter, Caitlin, was born. In retrospect, I know that He’s held me many times before. I just wasn’t aware of Him. I remember the moment so vividly. I was in a small Southern Baptist church, and the pastor had just given an altar call. Prior to that, I was having these flashes throughout the service. It seemed like everything that the pastor was saying was aimed straight for my heart. I remember my face feeling flushed, my palms were sweating and my heart was about to beat out of my chest. At this point in my life, I wasn’t “saved”…that is to say, I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I kept asking myself, “Why am I feeling like this?” And, “Are you talking to me, God?” I bit back tears for almost an hour. Finally, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. At the invitation, I went forward.
It seemed so surreal, like I was watching myself get up from the pew in the back (yes, I was one of those last row people) and walk down the aisle. I saw the faces in the crowd gasping, smiling and crying. I should mention here that I had been going to church for a while after having said I would never attend church in the South. Nothing against Southerners. It was just that at that time in my life, I had the overwhelming view of religion in the South as being Jim and Tammy Faye Baker on every street corner.
When I arrived at the front, I looked at my pastor with the tears streaming down my cheeks, and we embraced. When we did, I was overcome. I cried like I had never cried before. They just came and came and came. I prayed the sinner’s prayer with him and accepted Jesus into my heart. The catalyst was Caitlin’s impending birth.
It would be nice to give you the proverbial, “The rest, as they say, is history.” I can’t, though. As any human being is wont to do, I have had my ups and downs. Thankfully, as I learn and grow in God’s word, I’m reminded that His grace is always there to hold me close and welcome me home. It’s there that I receive the most comfort (typically after I’ve made a mess of things by trying to do it on my own).
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”- 2 Corinthians 1:4
How many of the trials in my life have prepared me for the life I lead now? All of them. How many of those tribulations did God not just walk by my side but carry me through? All of them. How many of them did He hold me in His warm embrace and protect me through? Each and every one of them.
Thanks to those trying times and my subsequent growth, I can hold my children now and tell them that it’s going to be okay. When they get a scratch or a splinter, I can give them a hug and “kiss it better”. If they fall off their bike or get hurt in a soccer game or tennis match, I can hold them until the pain goes away. When my wife is stressed from work or financial difficulties, or she wakes up in the middle of the night from a bad dream, I can clutch her to me and tell her that everything will be okay (it’s such an awesome feeling when I feel the tension in her body literally relax in my arms :D). I know it will because that’s the way God holds me. He let’s me know that He’s holding me and my family each and every day…which is the next step of the 90 days. Hold each other the way God holds you. Don’t be stingy with the physical contact. A hug can melt away all the cares in the world.
I pray that you are experiencing the peace and comfort only He can give. If not, it’s not too late.
“But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn- not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”- John 1:12-14
I leave you with this song from Jamie Grace. It’s me to a tee. I love the way He holds me. Be blessed.