Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
- Genesis 33:1-4
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
- Mark 10:13-16
“I once asked a child, ‘How do you know if Jesus is in your life?’ He replied, ‘Because the Spirit is with me. It’s like a hug from God.’
“According to psychologists, everyone needs daily: four hugs to survive, eight hugs for maintenance and twelve hugs for growth. Researchers have discovered that hugging can help you live longer, protect you against illness, cure depression, alleviate stress, strengthen family relationships and help you get to sleep at night without medication. Hugs reduce blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate and helps relieve pain and sadness.
“Hug are fat-free, sugar-free, and calorie-free. They’re not fattening and they don’t cause cancer or cavities. They are all natural with no preservatives, artificial ingredients, or pesticide residue. They are cholesterol-free, naturally sweet, 100% wholesome. And they are a completely renewable natural resource.
“They require no batteries, tune-ups, or x-rays. They are non-taxable, fully-returnable and energy efficient. They cost nothing, but can mean the world.
“In Mark 10:13-16, we are told that Jesus hugged the little children, had his hands on them and blessed them. But Jesus still hugs today. I know. In my life, the Lord has covered me with His arms of love. He has embraced me with his compassion and gentle words.
“Jesus is a wonderful role model. Hugs are one way we can be the arms of Christ. Who would He like you to hug or give gentle words to today?”
- Paul Lippard, “Hugs” a devotion in God’s Abundance, edited by Kathy Collard Miller
Sorry, I had to copy the entire devotion. It was priceless, like a hug.
Our boys have conditioned the grandchildren to be cautious of my bear hugs. It becomes a game with the little ones. The older ones tap me on the shoulder, and squeak, “I can’t breathe!” I feel it necessary to make a firm connection with them.
The first Scripture is about the family reunion of Esau and Jacob. Jacob bought Esau’s birthright for a simple bowl of soup. Jacob stole Esau’s blessing. Esau swore revenge, so Jacob ran away. Now, after living with Laban, Jacob returns. When he hears of the 400 men coming with Esau, he stages everything in a strategic, but self-centered, manner. His gifts to Esau come first, to soften Esau’s heart. But when he came to his own children, the servants and their children came first, then Leah and her children, and finally Rachel and Joseph. Rachel was his true love. He was tricked into marrying Leah first. He made Rachel and Joseph the most protected.
Yet, their encounter began with a hug, kisses, and tears. Esau’s heart was already softened. They even argued over the house-warming gifts Jacob had brought with him.
My mind usually wanders, often down a muddy road. In this case as I read the story of this reunion, I thought of the origin of the handshake. The handshake was invented to ensure that the person that you are greeting is not armed with a weapon.
I like the Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In version of this invention. One caveman says to his wife, presumably, “I have invented the handshake. It is a foolproof way to ensure that the other person is not armed. Let me demonstrate.” He then walks up to another caveman. He says, “Hello, my name is Og.” He reaches out and shakes the other caveman’s right hand. The other caveman then says, “They call me Lefty!” Then Lefty pulls out a club with his left hand and clobbers Og on the noggin’.
But with Jacob and Esau, there was no checking to see if the other was armed. They embraced.
Jesus ‘took the children in His arms.’ He hugged them.
While I love hugs, my wife and I rarely make it into the maintenance area that Mr. Lippard writes about. And that’s the reason for this post. I don’t think people hug enough. Maybe if we hugged more often, we would have less fights. I’m not talking about my wife and I; I’m talking people in general. In Washington, DC, I am afraid that if they made it a policy that elected officials had to hug before they debated an issue, the huggings would turn into muggings, but it’s worth the risk. Would it not be?
But before we get to the writers of laws, we should start with our own family and then extend that to our church family. I know; some are afraid of human contact, but we can each wade through those shark infested waters. Hugs are too necessary to leave contained in our backpack. They need to be used. As Mr. Lippard suggests, who should you hug today?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.