There’s nothing like a good hug…arms around you, holding you, enveloping you in a warm embrace of love. My 4th of July celebration started with hugs in my sister’s home. Nephews, cousins, sisters, brothers, in-laws or in-loves as we call them! The offering and giving of hugs is sweet. Hugs of welcome, of hello, of I’ve missed you, or I treasure you in my life. This holiday the one hug I treasured most was the hug from my mama. For you see, she’s a ‘bent over’ woman. Her aging process has affected her body. She can’t hug too well anymore. But as I knelt in front of her wheelchair and hugged her, I whispered, “put your arms around me, mama. I need your hug today.” She lifted her sweet arms then and haltingly put them around me and there we stayed for several minutes. Oh, the sweetness of that hug…the whispers we shared of I love you, I treasure you, the little moans of love. This bent over woman of mine needed the hug too.
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Luke 13:10-13
Imagine the bent over woman Jesus encountered. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. She had been looking down for many years as her body forced her eyes downward. (Wherever you are, stand up right now, and place yourself in the position of how you imagine the bent over woman). What do you see? I see feet, the ground, the bottom half of the room, the bottom half of life. For eighteen years the woman had been crippled. She saw the bottom half of the world but we find her coming to the temple that day. She hoped. She prayed. How badly she must have desired the ability to stand up straight!
When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and set her free. She straightened up and praised Him. Oh, how glorious that must have felt to her soul and her spine. The spine that had been locked up tight for so many years was finally stretched out. Her neck muscles could stretch to look up into the heavens, to see the sun, to see people she loved, to give and receive upright hugs!
This 4th holiday, after leaving my sister’s house and went to a favorite location of ours, the Grand Hotel on Mobile Bay. We’ve been here less than 24 hours as I write this and have already met and talked with symbolically ‘bent over’ people from Germany, Indonesia, Mexico and America. For you see, I believe we’re all bent over in some way. We all desire the healing touch of Jesus that enables us to stretch out, look to heaven and praise Him!
Are we bent over as all of our ‘things’ weigh us down and we see life only from the perspective of prosperity and achievement? Or are we bent over because we find we know all the answers. We’ve accepted Jesus as our Saviour and have moved on…but could we be bent over in our silence, our keeping His news of salvation just for ourselves? The acquaintances we met this weekend from Germany, Indonesia, and Mexico may be bent over in their lack of knowing the One as perhaps they’ve never heard the call Jesus is making to them.
Oh Lord, as Americans, you’ve blessed us and our country. We’re blessed to be a blessing. Many of us have heard Your call. You called us to come to You. You’ve healed us so that we could know you, love you and tell others of You. The world around us is waiting to be hugged. People are longing for someone to tell them of the Saviour so that they too will feel the warm arms of a hug, a belonging. Straighten me up Lord so that I offer Your words of healing to the world around me.