“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.”
― Wm. Paul Young, The Shack
She was working at a safe house that night. We got there just in time, just before dark.
She opened the door for us, welcoming in the girl we were bringing. She asked our friend, “Can I give you a hug? You look like you need one.”
Of course our friend took it.
I walked up next and said, “Can I get one of those, too? I need a hug myself.”
The woman laughed a big laugh and gave me what I needed.
And I felt God in those arms. I heard him in her voice. I saw him in her actions.
In that moment, she was Papa. I got hugged by Papa.
If you’ve read The Shack, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Author Paul Young depicted God inside the body of an African-American woman named Papa because Mack, the main character, needed to dump his outdated image of a cruel God and start fresh.
Sometimes my image of God needs an update, too.
I’m not always open to how God wants to reveal himself. Sometimes he’s fuzzy in his hard hat working a difficult situation, or shadowy as the giver of good gifts in my brokenness. Sometimes I overlook his bag of tools when he’s slower to fix things (people?) than I’d prefer.
I fail to recognize him when he doesn’t look like I expect or appear where I’m pointing or sound like I anticipated.
But when I’m open—really open—I find him here.
- Maybe in the courage of a friend doing a hard, hard thing.
- Or maybe in the text of another that says, “She will watch for you; she will let you in.”
- And maybe in the arms of a large African-American woman who does watch for us and who does let us in, all the way into her heart.
Straight into God’s heart—that’s where vision is clearest. Inside out. It’s our safest house.
It’s where our wounds are healed, our fear is erased, our value is confirmed.
Maybe we’ll never see God here in person, but we can see him in persons here.
I know I have. And I even got hugged.
“I am merciful and very patient. I show great love and I can be trusted.”
— God (Exodus 34:6)
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Are you a hugger? Who have you seen God in lately? I’d love to hear.
- My reading list for April 2014
- “Unfollowers” – Book review