Recently, I had the opportunity to sing at a church outside of Austin, TX. After the end of the service I was standing at the back of the sanctuary talking to some folks when I looked across the auditorium and noticed Sarah. Sarah was around 4 maybe 5 years old. She was wearing a pretty little pink dress. Her shiny brown hair was shoulder length and adorned with a darling pink bow that secured a small pony-tail on the exact top of her head. She caught my attention because she was very enthusiastically announcing that which was to her obvious delight, her toe-nails were painted the same color and just like her mother’s. Her adorable flip-flops perfectly showed them off. Sarah was taking great pleasure in every opportunity to strike a pose. It was quite charming.
Soon, Sarah and her mother approached the back. By this time I was standing near the door, a few feet left of the pastor who was in front of the propped door. We were shaking hands and saying goodnight to folks as they exited the building. Sarah passed me first. I looked at her and smiled. She quickly tucked in behind her mom. Timidly peeking from her safe spot her body language was a visible expression that she was uncomfortable with the big stranger. I shook her mother’s hand and thanked them for coming out. As they walked passed me, Sarah caught the eye of the pastor standing just a few feet away. Immediately, her countenance changed. She was not afraid of anything now. He looked down at her and said, “Where’s my hug?” She flung her hands in the air, ran and jumped into his arms. For a moment, little Sarah laid with her head on his shoulder, completely lost in the embrace. She rested in his arms a few short seconds before leaning back from his chest and launching into perky chatter about her day…and of course to display the splendor of those pretty pink toe-nails. For those few minutes the Pastor was focused solely on her. Then he bent over and set her down. As she ran back to her mother, her beaming smile and bolstered confidence told us all without a single word, “He loves me!”
After witnessing that exchange, I was struck not only by the beauty of it’s love, but also by the resemblance it bore to worship and our relationship with the Father. I could see God look down at me and say, “Where’s my hug?” Then just like Sarah, I throw my hands in the air and with reckless abandon get lost in His embrace. Before long, I'm recounting my day with Him, the happy stuff and sometimes the sad. I bare my heart. He bares His. I love those moments with God. I believe they capture the essence of His delight in me. We are created for this extreme relationship and marvelously redeemed for the same. I find it true that when I loose myself in the Lord’s embrace like that something happens in me kind of like what happened in Sarah. Suddenly, my countenance is changed. My confidence is bolstered. I know that I am loved. The look on my face and the authority in my step reveal I’ve been touched by a powerful love. A love that is capable of living through a man, that changes him, wrecks him for good. Love that takes weakness, fear, flaws, even dirt and turn them into strength, courage, beauty, even righteousness and power. In the face of this love I am compelled to fling my arms in the air, break into a run and jump into His arms. I love it there. And when He sets me down again, I’m thrilled to go do is work. I’m filled with confidence to effect this world for His Kingdom’s sake. And my heart is more keenly aware than before, that this amazing love was meant for all of us and that He wants me to love you with the same selfless passion and radical intensity. I can suddenly see that every time He redeems something in me, He’s showing me how to give that same love and power that flow from Him, to those whose lives intersect with mine.