I used to lie in bed as a kid and pray that God would hold my hand. I remember doing this often as a child. I went to sleep praying and stretching out my hand to see if God would grab it. (I probably would have wet my pants if He did!)
He never did grab my hand, and I never stopped believing that He was real either.
At different times in our lives, our need for God increases within the different circumstances we find ourselves in. And He responds.
Several years ago I was doing a Teacher Aide Certificate. I did my training with a wonderful class of 7 and 8 year olds, and a class teacher who went beyond her job for those kids. At that time my mother was terminally ill and there were days when I went to school, that I wished I could rather be at home with her.
During those many years of illness, I learnt how to put on a brave face, slap on a genuine smile, and just do life no matter how bad she was. I still battled through fear and lonliness in that time, and while God knew it all, not many others did.
I remember a week which seemed harder than the others, but I took myself off to school to do my training. Being in a classroom with very vibrant children doesn't leave you any free headspace to get down, so I figured I'd made the right choice to continue my study.
The days progressed as normal. Children being rebellious, teacher being overworked, activities, stories, school assemblies, lunch breaks, reading time, then God broke into my world....
I suddenly felt His arms around me in the form of a 7 year old boy. Ben was his name and I will never forget him. That week he continued to give me hugs. He would come up behind me when I'd least expect him to and wrap his small little 7 year old arms around me and tell me that he loved me.
It makes me tear up even now that I think about it. I believe God used Ben during that week, to let me know that He was there. Ben didn't know what my family was going through. And some would say that he was just being a typical 7 year old boy who had a crush on the Teacher Aide. But for me, Ben's arms were God's arms and the timing was critical. And with my love language being 'touch' I really needed a hug from God - and He gave me those hugs!
"Sometimes you're further than the moon
Sometimes you're closer than my skin
You surround me like a winter fog
You've come and burned me with a kiss"
~Martin Smith, Delirious
God will never leave us or forsake us. And sometimes He will use those around us to show us just how much He loves us. So I encourage you today, if you're going through a hard time, don't dismiss a kind word, an act of love, or even a hug from a child. It may be God trying to show you His love.
Thank you Ben.
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