On our last night in Nicaragua this past March, we attended an evening church service. The room was hot as we sat in plastic chairs, our group near the front. We sang—or they sang and we listened to their Spanish worship songs—we clapped. They danced and smiled and worshiped.
For me, the evening was special as we worshiped with the friends we’d met After the service, we were sweaty and joyful but sad: at 5 a.m. the next morning, we’d be leaving our mission house to board a plane and head home. We hugged everyone at the church service goodbye, whether or not we’d really spoken with the person during the week. I said bittersweet goodbyes to the friends I’d met in October and reunited with in March. I hugged the kids who wanted to hug each of us.
One boy stood out. He grinned and reached out his arms for a hug, so I knelt and hugged him, expecting the quick squeeze-and-go that I’d gotten from the other little ones. But he held on, so I held on. The lingering hug touched me, exemplifying the warmth of the people I’d grown to love so much as I spent time in the country.
He finally stepped back and grinned before waving and darting off. As I stood, I looked at my friend and said, “That kids gives the best hugs.”
Then I saw a woman approaching to give me a hug, and when she wrapped her arms around me in the warmest hug I’ve ever experienced, I knew without asking that this woman must be the little boy’s mother (a fact that I confirmed later). I couldn’t mistake a hug that conveys so much affection and love, a hug that keeps you in that moment. I think I remember her murmuring something, and I don’t know if she was saying something to me, or if she was saying a prayer, but I know that I felt an overwhelming sense of the Lord’s presence in that moment. Her hug there in that sweltering church building remains a highlight of my trip.
As I have thought and prayed about that moment, I was struck with a thought. That little boy learned how to give fantastic hugs from his mother. He’s spent time with her. He’s learned from her. Because I met this boy, I recognized his mother.
Isn’t that why it’s so important that I spend time with my God? I want my love to be remarkable, noticeable. I want to love in a way that people remark about it and are then drawn to my God, whose love goes above and beyond anything they can see in me. I want them to recognize God in my actions, as I recognized a mother in her son. I think of the line from Les Miserables, “To love another person is the see the face of God.”
The closer I draw to the Lord, the easier His love will flow through me.
The closer you draw to the Lord, the easier His love will flow through you.
Love like Jesus.