Recently, one of our pastors preached a sermon and used a phrase that intrigued me: hugging God. He mentioned how awesome it will be when we can finally hug God. Imagine it. Hugging God. I can more easily envision embracing Jesus, since He was flesh and blood, like us. But hugging God? For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth, John 4:24 (NLT). How do you hug a Spirit? And yet, the fellowship our Father God had in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve was very real, in fact, scripture records that they [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, (Genesis 3:8), so something tangible and real had been within their grasp before they fell from grace.
The Father’s love for us is so incredible! No matter how much or how little hugging our earthly fathers offered us, no father’s love and affection can even come near to our Heavenly Father’s love. The story of the prodigal son gives us a glimpse into that love, as recorded in Luke 15:20-24 (NLT): "So he [the prodigal son] returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.' "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.
What an embrace! What a party! What a stinky, gross, dirty mess of a kid showed up, not knowing if he’d be accepted or kicked off the property. The robe the young man’s father put on him was a long robe that covered him completely, to his ankles, thus covering his filth and sin. How totally like our Heavenly Father, who has completely covered us and given us, of all things, a robe of righteousness. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, (Isaiah 61:10).
Back to the idea of hugging a Spirit… Romans 5:5-9 (NLT) tells us, and this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Jesus told His followers that He needed to go to the Father, but that He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to us (John 14:16). If you have never experienced the warmth and comfort of the Holy Spirit, it is the most tangible “hug” from the Father that I have ever known.
In the months following the death of my husband, I cannot recall how many times the Holy Spirit lifted me during moments of deep grief and sadness. He simply lifted me above the grief, there was no other explanation. In the middle of the day or night, in a crowd of people, on a lonely country road, the Holy Spirit comforted me each time I needed it.
Presently, as I am recovering from COVID-19, two of my dear friends came to anoint me with oil and pray, as I asked them, in accordance with James 5:14-15 (NLT), Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. The sweetness of the Spirit of God permeated the room, and my lungs felt warm and good. The next day I awoke with much more energy, my fever and respiratory symptoms have quieted, and faith is rising.
I was hugged by my Heavenly Father. His Holy Spirit is the hugger, the healer, the lover, the comforter. And we can hug Him back right now with our praise, our thanks, our prayer, our worship, our life!
© 2021, Chris Werre