But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
- Jude 1:20-21
“A husband and wife visited an orphanage where they hoped to adopt a child. In an interview with the boy they wanted, they told him in glowing terms about the many things they could give him. To their amazement the little fellow said, ‘If you have nothing to offer except a good home, clothes, toys, and the other things that most kids have – why, I would just as soon stay here.’ ‘What on earth could you want besides whose things?’ the woman asked. ‘I just want someone to love me,’ replied the little boy. There you have it! Even a little boy knows that ‘man shall not live by bread alone.’ Our deeper yearnings and longings can be met only by a renewed fellowship with the One in whose image we were created, God.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (May 5)
When I read this devotion, I thought of my friend Julie, of Cookie Crumbs to Live By. All who call upon Jesus as their Savior are adopted into God’s family, chosen to be brothers of Jesus, but some of us are chosen twice, and adopted here on earth.
I am writing this before I leave to pick up my wife in Tennessee, about a week before I intend on leaving. Will the COVID-19 restrictions change between now and then, driving from PA to TN and then back again? Will some kerfuffle happen, and I postpone leaving Pennsylvania? Will the dining restrictions in Mississippi get lifted so that I can attend a special reunion? It is so hard finding up-to-date info on the restrictions for travel for each state, and the quarantine requirements and other such things. But I cannot wait much longer. I am an introvert. I have thoroughly loved the solitude, but there comes a time when you need a hug. There comes a time when you need that feeling of being loved. I hope that when this gets posted, I am either sitting next to my wife or giving her a big hug. Okay, the grandchildren can provide great hugs themselves.
I grew up in an unemotional, stoic family. Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) were not permitted, and that included our household when the only ‘public’ were other family members. I was told that my parents loved me. And yes, I had to be told by third parties, and their explanation was because there were other kids who didn’t have nice clothing, a roof over their heads, and food on the table. Me not feeling loved was a clear sign that I was not grateful. But, oh so often, I wanted a hug. My grandparents raised my parents during the Great Depression. There may not have seemed to be the appropriate time in those days to do something frivolous, like a hug, so my parents may not have grown up in an emotional environment themselves. Thus, they were comfortable being stoic. My Dad grew up in a fundamentalist, legalistic home – as Mark Lowry would say, a fundamentalist, King James Only, Southern Baptist. My Dad’s father, Granddaddy, was very strict. I don’t know if I ever saw him smile, but he could get angry. He could quote Scripture, too. He had ready Scripture to quote for any circumstance, multiple references.
So, I know, even though I had parents and grandparents, what the little boy in Billy Graham’s story was feeling. I often just wanted a hug, and my mother’s mother was where I got them.
It could be that some of my interest in comedy stems from that yearning to have Joy in my life, as I enumerated in my testimony during my comedy routine last October called, “Humor Me.” But there is also that need within me to express emotions that are acceptable in a stoic environment, to gain a sense of love in that I could change the mood in the room from “When will the bomb be diffused?” to “Ah, now I am more relaxed.” And maybe that is why I usually start telling jokes during tense moments.
Of course, most people want this pandemic, and all the aftermath thereof, to be in our rearview mirror, but we have a loving God. He loves us in spite of our mistakes. He chose us before the dawn of time. And He is right there, near us, within us, loving us. If you pray with every ounce of energy that you can muster, you can almost feel His arms around you.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.