“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.” ~ I Peter 1:22 (NAS)
There are variations of an old story that is told of a young child who was troubled by a thunderstorm. She sought refuge in her parent’s bedroom. Her parents hugged her and cuddled her and attempted to comfort her by saying, “You are going to be all right. God is with you. He will take care of you.” The little girl replied, “Yes, but I still want to be with someone who has arms!”
In our world of hectic schedules, high tech gadgets and social media, our relationships are becoming more and more dehumanized. We have less and less face to face contact. Our communication level is shallow and our actual presence is limited. The end result is leading to greater and greater isolation. As a result of these factors, studies are showing that for us to be emotionally healthy we need to have a certain number of significant human touches a day. Pam Kidd writes, “How encouraging and comforting touch can be. It can be a great antidote to weariness or feeling alone. There’s a connection that runs from your touch to the other person’s heart.” When this is lacking, mental health professionals are finding there is a great price that is being paid by many who suffer from feelings of disconnection and loneliness.
Charles Swindoll in his devotion “We Need Each Other” writes, “Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link and the chain is broken. You guessed it. We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not. To make this thing called life work, we gotta lean and support. And relate and respond. And give and take. And confess and forgive. And reach out and embrace.”
Philip Yancey in his book, Where Is God When It Hurts, speaks to this great need. He writes, “I have learned that simple availability is the most powerful force we can contribute to help calm the fears of others.” He continues, “When asked the question, ‘Who helped you most?’, most often the answer was someone who was there whenever needed, who listened more than talked, who didn’t keep glancing down at a watch, who hugged and touched, and cried. In short, someone who was available, and came on the sufferer’s terms and not their own.” Deep down, isn’t this the kind of friend we wished we were and we wished we could have? This little prayer by Gina Bridgeman is a challenge for us all: “Lord, remind me that when I get too busy to spend a moment with a friend, I’m busier than You want me to be.”
We need to ask ourselves: Who do I need to be available for today? Who do I need to visit today? Who do I need to spend uninterrupted quality time with today? Who do I need to hug today? Most of all, who can I extend the loving arms of Christ to everyday?
P.S. None of these things can be accomplished via phone, text, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.!
“God calls us to love His people because they are, well…His people. And we are to love our brothers and sisters deeply, as from the heart.” — Joni Eareckson Tada
Reflections on LOVING ARMS
Somehow my life seems to become busier every year. With the introduction of email, texting and social websites that are supposed to help connect me to people that I value, I have more and more demands on my time and less and less real personal interaction. I care about friends and family, I really do…but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all that I need to do and the technological ways that everyone is trying to stay connected can be used to “check off that box” on a To Do list and tend to make me less sensitive to the needs of those around me. Reading what someone is feeling and being face to face with tears streaming down their cheeks or eyes hollow and hopeless with emotional pain just do not carry the same impact to my heart. Neither do my hurried written response and emoticons. God has convicted me that I need to listen more to His Spirit than to the beeps on my phone that notify me of a new text or email or posting to a social website. He knows each need of those I love. He sees each tear they shed. He understands the deep emotions they are experiencing and not only that, He is the only true Source of comfort. However, sometimes We are the tools He wants to use to help bring comfort to others.
Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 that the most important commandments are first, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and that the second commandment is directly related to that…to love our neighbors as ourselves. God has called us to love and to show that love in physical, tangible ways. God created human beings to need physical touch. I have friends who have adopted children from foreign countries who later developed attachment disorders which cause them to struggle with a lack of trust and self-worth, a fear of getting close to anyone, anger and a need to control. Doctors have discovered that children who have not experienced enough physical touch early in life are prone to develop these attachment disorders. May God help us to not cause the same issues with those people He has placed in our lives specifically so that we can be His hands and hugs to those who are hurting and needing encouragement.
Prayer for the hurting person:
Please help this one who is feeling disconnected and unimportant to feel Your love and concern for them. Help them to be comforted by the knowledge that You not only see their pain, but You care and that You are convicting others who care about them to respond to their needs. Help them know that they matter…that You value them…that You said in Jeremiah 29:11 that You have plans for them to give them hope and a future. Encourage their hearts today Lord.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Help me not to be desensitized by the world and the busy pace around me. Help me to listen to Your voice speaking to my heart and not tune you out with the noise of technology. Help me see others as You see them and give me compassion and a willingness to be used to reach out and touch those You care about. Soften my heart and protect it from the harshness and selfishness of the world.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.