Hugging Jesus

by Linda Lawrence

One way to hug Jesus is to hug your mother.

Ever since Mom came to live with us, I started each day disgruntled.  This Sunday I woke up cranky, even though Mom was away for a week, visiting my sister.  I arrived at church smiling on the outside but inside – I was only there out of duty. 
I was annoyed to see that an intellectual scientist was going to give the children’s sermon, sure it would be a waste of time.

“What is a hug?” he began.  He’s going to talk about hugs?  Sure not what I expected from him.  He carried on a lop-sided dialogue with three pre-schoolers about why people hug and why they like to be hugged. “Did you know Jesus likes to be hugged, too?” he asked.  Blank stares.  “He does.  When children wanted to climb on his lap and hug Him, the big people who were His friends tried to scoot them away.  But Jesus said, ‘No, no, let them come’ and they hugged Him; and the Bible says He blessed them.  So, how can you hug Jesus?”

A quiet “I don’t know” was the only response.

“One way to hug Jesus is to hug your mother.  Jesus said that what we do to other people we are doing to Jesus.”

That profound reminder struck me with a jolt. Mom has Alzheimer’s and is unable to live alone.  Inviting her to live with us was done as a duty.  I’m not an affectionate or touchy, feely person.  Especially not with my mother. 

“One way to hug Jesus is to hug your mother,” he had said.  Still cranky, I thought he should have said “. . .  hug your mommy and daddy,” or “. . . hug your parents,” but then I saw the message was for me.  I need to hug my Mother.

That evening I talked to Mom on the phone, trying to sound loving, but honestly, thankful that she was at my sister’s.  “I miss your hugs, honey,” Mom said.  “You always make me feel so loved.”

What a wonder.  From the beginning I begged God to give me love for my mother.  I didn’t feel it, but I did the dutiful thing, acting the way I hope to one day feel.  And somehow God miraculously transforms that obedience into love between the time it leaves me and the time it reaches Mom.

God is a loving God, and I’m beginning to think that when I’m cranky, one way He wants to hug me - is through my mother.

"Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul." Psalm 66:16