Hugs convey so many emotions – there’s the “hey, I haven’t seen you in a while” hug, the “wish you well on your journey” hug, the “so sorry for your loss” hug, the “I’m so happy for you” hug, the “I can’t believe we just did that” hug, the “I love you anyways” hug, the “it’s great to be alive” hug, the “you must be having a bad day” hug, and “you look like you haven’t been hugged in a while” hug. Putting your arms around another human being brings about some sort of connection we simply cannot attain on our own – I mean, have you ever tried to hug yourself (or are you trying now that you read that)? It just doesn’t work. Your mind knows that you cannot fulfill this need for embrace, connection, and sense of belonging on your own. The great irony of hugs is we often need them in the midst of the the most lonely and terrible things. When we feel no one can know. When we feel no one understands. When we feel we are not worthy of love. When we are ashamed of what we become. When we are running away.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” – I Chronicles 7:13-16
These words were spoken by God to Solomon concerning Israel after the consecration of the temple. These people have a condition and a promise not unlike our own. When things get bad, where are we going to turn? When we are lonely, scared, hurt, or struggling to understand, who will we seek? The thing is, we have someone who understands. We have someone who calls us worthy. We have a proud Father. We have someone to run to in the middle of the deepest, darkest storms of our life. He is God Almighty, and his arms have been reaching towards you and I since the beginning of our existence, ready, waiting, watching, and listening. Once He hugs, he does not let go because His name is forever written on our hearts, his newly establish temple.
There are two conditions to God’s hug. The first is submission. The actual physical posture of a hug is one of the most vulnerable positions you can put yourself in. Your arms and hands are no longer protecting your body. You are giving up the rationally safe position to experience greater joy. This same predicament comes with turning to God. Giving up safety means airing out your junk to him and others. It means putting trust in His hands. We do not seek to know why the rain falls on the just, but we seek to know Him, that He is a Good Father, who is for us, not against us – this is what brings us joy when we don’t understand. I know – IT IS SO HARD in the midst of famine, frustrations, and fury, but God is faithful to us, so we must seek and trust.
Additionally, the second condition is invitation. God was invited into Solomon’s temple and He shows up big time (2 Chronicles 5:14). That same invitation and power is available to us. Submitting to God’s will begins the removal of junk that crowds the space where His Spirit is to dwell, and His Spirit is our Comforter, our spiritual hugger, constantly filling and surrounding us with the presence of God. It is available to us when the clouds are shut and when we celebrate the rain. Try this – actually physically verbalize this invitation and outstretch your arms – I know sounds weird. Submit. Invite. As you worship, as you pray, as you walk throughout your day. God presence is what follows, telling us that we are His children and we can cry out “Abba, Father, I need a hug!” because we are never left or forsaken by our Father.