I am a daughter of Italian immigrants. I lived with my parents and grandparents in a big house in the country. Many Italian immigrants lived in this area. Practically all the families had the tradition that one of the children (generally the youngest) would get married but live in their parents' home and care for them in their old age.
Besides my father, my grandparents had five children. My aunts and uncles would often visit their parents, so we cousins spent many unforgettable moments together. One could almost feel and touch the love found there, even though this was not expressed much through hugs and kisses. Love was seen in conversations, laughing together, and even our enthusiastic arguing.
The years went by. My grandparents died. My cousins married. My parents aged, and then an illness entered their lives.
My husband, children, and I were on vacation at our country home where I had been raised. My father told us that he had gone to look for the animals to bring them to the corral for the night, but he got lost and didn’t know how he got back to the house. North seemed to be south, and east looked like west.
During one of those days, he lost his balance. We felt there must be something seriously wrong with him. He decided to visit one of my cousins who is a doctor. We went to church and came back home. Mother got out of the car with a serious look on her face. She told us that after the Sabbath services, my cousin talked with her. Most likely my father had a cerebral tumor, and he would need to be taken to the city for further tests.
So Dad was transferred 700 km. to the home of one of my brothers who was also a doctor. Tests confirmed that my father had a tumor. My brother found a specialist (who had been his professor) to do the operation.
As it was necessary to do some special treatments days before the operation, my brothers and sisters took turns being with my father. It was very important to be at his side, not only to help him not feel alone, but also to converse on any topic besides sickness. According to my brother, being of good courage was fundamental in having a quick recovery.
Early one morning, it was my turn to be with my dad. I laid my head on his bed as I waited for him to awaken from his night's sleep. I felt him move in the bed. He put his arm around my neck and held me close, and there were tears in his eyes. I didn't want him to become depressed. I had to struggle to get out of his grasp and reassure him that nothing bad was going to happen. Everything would be fine, and the operation would be a success.
My father lived three years after that morning. I often think about my dad's hug that I interrupted. How many times do we shut up what our heart wants to shout! Why don’t we sense or value the expressions of love from our own families? We speak courteous words. Why do we not take advantage of this before it is too late? Why do we believe in our parents when we are children but as adults feel that it is unnecessary to say things like “I love you so much” or “You are so valuable to me.” What a pleasure it would be if we used these words more often!
In Song of Solomon 2:6, we are told the importance of the physical embrace. It expresses the desire of the whole heart: "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me."
My father's hug meant so much to me. What about a hug from the Heavenly Father? Do I feel His hug when I return home repentant, like the son in the parable? Is there a reason that I interrupt God's hug? Do I desire to have His hug each day?
There are many occasions in this life when we can enjoy hugs from our dear Savior, Jesus.
I always enjoyed the story of Jacob, whether it was listening about it, reading about it, or sharing it with others. Thinking about the ladder that touched the earth and went up into heaven, with God's angels climbing up and coming down, always chased away my fears when I was a child. It spoke to me of God's tender care and told me that He would protect me at all times and under all circumstances. The story is God's way of saying that He is interested in having each of us as His children.
Jacob did not interrupt God's communication. It led him to later exclaim in Peniel, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And what a blessing he received that same day! Genesis 33:4 describes Jacob’s encounter with his brother. Esau had been his enemy for many years. "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." A hug can speak volumes!
How many times did Jacob recount this story to his children? What did his children think when they heard the account? What impact did it make on Rachel’s son to see his father with his uncle? Was it this and the ladder that made Joseph decide that he would not “cut communications with the God of his fathers.”
What about Joseph and his brothers? Their decisions were so different, and the results were different too. There in Egypt, when the right time came, Joseph let his brothers know who he was. At first his brothers "could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence” (Genesis 45:3). Then he asked them to come close. He hugged and kissed all of his brothers. How many words, prayers, and speeches can be summed up in a sincere hug!
Let's not lose the opportunity to offer hugs from our hearts. Perhaps in doing so, we are hugging Jesus' feet, as the women did who went to the tomb early in the morning. The ladies thought they would find Jesus; they didn't know they would find an empty tomb. And an angel in shining clothes told them that Christ had been resurrected. They believed his words and ran with great joy to give the news to the disciples. And Jesus went to meet them! So that's why they hugged His feet—to praise Him!
What will be my first reaction when I come face to face with Jesus? I will accept His hug and refrain from interrupting the wonderful act that shows His loving, tender, and patient care for me.