I finally hugged my first non-family person this week. It came at the end of a surprise breakfast with my District Superintendent and his lovely wife. She is an incredible woman of faith and we sometimes tease him that he “married up.” He doesn’t mind this because he agrees.
We were discussing how life would feel now that we are all fully-vaccinated, and I mentioned that I think I have become “touch averse.” For over a year I restrained myself from hugging, shaking hands, touching a shoulder in a gesture of comfort, visiting the sick in a hospital and holding a hand, comforting the grieving with a gentle pat on the arm…the virus stole all of this from us and as a pastor who easily uses touch to convey concern and love, IT HAS BEEN HARD. All of you “huggers” feel this pain with me, I am sure!
This sweet woman listened with great empathy to my confession and then said, “You know, when you are with someone in a pastoral setting, you are clearly being the love to Jesus to them in that moment. And with that comes the power and protection of the Holy Spirit in everything you say to them and everything you do.” When breakfast was over, I hugged her. Happily.
This is exactly what I needed to hear as I make my way up from the dark hole of touch aversion back to the sunlight of normal behavior. She offered me a sip from the well of Christ’s salvation and I didn’t even know how parched I was. I will trust and not be afraid.
Isaiah 12 (New International Version)
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
My concern has not just myself, but also for those around me. My congregation is a delicate population for the most part, and as an international airline pilot’s wife, I have not wanted to give or receive any illnesses during this time. But the Lord has done a glorious thing, and the county where I live has received state-wide commendation for our vaccine implementation. And in all things, the Lord himself is my strength and my defense.
4 In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
The time is almost upon us to return to those wells of salvation where we will hug each other and draw water together with joy. Soon it really will be over and we will sing once again to the Lord and let the world know what he has done. So as we approach the end of this terrible marathon we’ve all been running, let us safely press on toward the goal of living as those who are saved by the Lord.
We really are one day closer to the end of this thing! Thanks be to God.