Have you ever been in a store and a toddler wraps their arms around your leg? That moment you look down to see what’s just hugged you, is often the moment that little ‘hugger’ looks up at you and realizes you’re not his daddy!
My sixteen year old daughter has witnessed this happen to me over the years, and recently asked me how I felt about it. I told her that I love it! She asked if it made me feel awkward. For men, we may not be able to remember all the times it has happened in particular. But I can most certainly say that as a young man this is an award experience given our society’s problems such as sexual predators.
I can remember feeling; I hope nobody thinks I want this kid hugging my leg, I hope the parents doesn’t think I called their child over here, etc.
But as my own young family grew, and I grew, I remember when my feelings changed. I remember a time, in line at a department store, when a stranger’s child mistakenly hugged my leg thinking me their father. The mother quickly noticed, apologized and redirected their child. Now that my own children were nearing teenage years, the feelings of that baby reaching for it’s father reminded me of how formative, sensitive, vulnerable, teachable and reliant children are on their fathers and mothers. And all of this has it’s own beauty.
The trust the child has for the parent, the blind reaching out for a leg of stability to grab and cling to, the tiny hands reaching around the stability of the father and wrapping up in themselves; the child must feel so safe and secure knowing their father is so near and reachable.
So is it awkward? No, it is a beautiful reminder of the strength and power of the family. The family that God created.
In our society, our children need now more than ever, the stability of the father, and more to the point, the stability of God’s created order. One may look over the landscape of modern society and see the break down in the family, the loss of morality, the loss of truth, the loss of religion, the loss of eternity!
But we may also gain hope as we remember, we too have a strong leg we can wrap our arms around; that is our Heavenly Father. We may be reminded, that however chaotic the world becomes, however uncertain, however many wars, however many financial fallouts, however many personal moral failures, we may turn, reach out, and find the solid, unswerving, immovable Heavenly Father.
And unlike earthly fathers in a grocery store, always on the move, our Heavenly Father doesn’t move, He is immovable, unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and forever! His Mercy endures forever! But the time and opportunity for Grace is now forever, it is today, here right now.
Jesus told His disciples plainly that unless they became like a child, there is no way they could enter the Kingdom of Heaven. A child trusts, a child is teachable, correctable. A child receives discipline and yet, still hugs and love the parent. A toddler even wants to be embraced after punishment and discipline. A child asks questions, is inquisitive, and trusts everything their Father says. A child is taught to apologize for and rectify wrongs committed. A child wants nothing more than to be like their Father and Mother in every respect.
This child loves the family and feels safest with their loving, protecting, providing mother and father. At least once a week my ten year old son still finds a funny moment to sit down on the wood floor and wrap around my leg, preventing me from walking. This a game, a fun game that ends in wrestling and a hug. This is also a reminder of our bond. This is a reminder of our family.
My fourteen year old son still catches me off guard around the house and grabs my arm or my shoulder in playfulness. We wrestle some and end up in an embrace. This is love. This is a physical reminder of our familial bond. It is a reminder that Daddy’s still nearby, near enough to touch, near enough to laugh, to smile. Daddy’s near enough to at least for a moment, only focus on that child and share the joy of togetherness.
These seemingly insignificant moments are the primer for how my children will perceive and respond to their Heavenly Father, as well as their own families in the future. These moments, among countless others, represent the grand opportunity I have to instill Godly patterns of love and order in my children, which are in fact God’s more than they are mine.
But back to the leg hug….
So what does a child hugging a stranger’s leg teach us? We must know and recognize who our Heavenly Father is. We must learn to reject all others who are not ours, and we are not theirs. Modernism would destroy the foundation of the family and of culture itself if favor of some new world order. But we must recognize our Heavenly Father, only accessible by His Eternal Son; the Lord Jesus Christ. We must long to enter this family. We must hunger and thirst for the Righteousness of this family unit, the belonging in it, the completeness, safety and wholeness of it.
As a side note, we Godly men and women, we may also look today for the orphan or effective orphans, that don’t know a safe loving family environment. We may look to provide love and stability for so many who don’t know what a Godly family is. We may also look to show works of Mercy by loving the unlovable or unloved. There are countless wayward youth and young adults longing for stability and absolute truth in a post modern society. We may, as it were, spiritually adopt them in a way, by loving them and showing how adoptive our Heavenly Father is to all who come to Him in repentance and Faith in His Son. We may provide a safe environment for strangers even, and eventually evoke in them a new ability to trust fathers and mothers again.
We must completely trust today in His care. We must cast our arms around God, we must be like children again. We must come to the Father, through His Son; Jesus Christ.
So I encourage you today; see the beauty of God all around, see the family of God all around, mediate on the Trinity, and Love God, Love Jesus unto obedience, as a child.
My Name is Joshua Mangels, I am answering God’s call, to call God’s People to Holiness in a generation that has not been given the invitation to walk Holy. Please follow me on Twitter for daily updates and encouragements.