Posts Tagged ‘Luke 15:11-31, the story of the lost son, the prodigal son, Jesus’ parables, giving hugs, being a senior pastor, mentoring, Zain, day care centres, caring for grandchildren, being a grandparent, a w’

Jo 23This past week, I have found myself the recipient of some wonderful, warm, welcoming hugs. What a joy! Each time, as those arms have wrapped around me, I felt my heart kind of melt and go to mush. It was as if, in one unguarded moment, we reached out to each other in all our vulnerability and opened a window into our very souls.

Now it’s not as if we did this on a conscious level—at least, not in the case of our four-year-old grandson. I had arrived to pick him up from day care and quietly entered the room where he was busy playing. He turned around and, in an instant, I saw joyful recognition and sheer delight written all over his little, smiling face. The next moment, bits of puzzle scattered everywhere as he raced over to hug me tight. And, of course, I hugged him back. Our Zain can be very strong-minded at times and always full of energy. But he can also be warm, loving and gentle, wanting us to cuddle up close.

My other wonderful welcoming experience occurred after speaking to a seniors’ group in a church on the opposite side of town. As I chatted with people at my book table, I saw a younger man walking towards me. I recognised him immediately—I had known him years earlier when he was still at theological college but knew he was now the senior pastor of this church. How would he greet me in front of all those older members of his congregation? Would he be a little guarded? He smiled at me and, before I knew it, I was enveloped in the biggest bear hug and welcomed warmly to his church.

Then his wife arrived. For some years, I had met with her in a mentoring capacity, as she worked back then to support her husband. Now as we embraced, I could sense our hearts meeting again in a deep and moving way that went far beyond words. Later, I met up with another girl I had mentored—and again received a heartfelt hug. What a delight to see how both these women, now with families of their own, are still serving God in the most amazing ways!

As I reflected on all those wonderful, welcoming hugs, I could not help but think of the father we read about in Luke 15 who welcomes his lost son home with such joy.

But while he 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. (20)

True, my recent hugs were not given because I had returned from having squandered all my inheritance, as the young man in this story had. I was merely picking up our grandson and renewing old friendships. Yet these hugs have enabled me to imagine and appreciate all over again how much that father’s warm, welcoming, forgiving embrace must have meant to his son. And right now too, as I reflect on this wonderful, healing reconnection, I can feel those warm, loving arms of my own heavenly Father, welcoming me into his presence with equal joy and delight.

I am accepted. I am forgiven. I am loved.

And once again, my heart melts.

Read Full Post »