I had the privilege of teaching a course one spring for the “International Messengers” training center here in the Libby area where missionaries are prepared for ministry in Eastern Europe. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these dedicated folks and still stay in touch with most of the group as they are scattered in places like Poland, Romania, and the Ukraine. The missionaries contribute articles for the publication International Messengers Good News, and the fall 2011 issue included an article from one of the missionaries I got to meet that spring, Naomi Hale. I was greatly encouraged by her story and emailed to get permission to share it, knowing it would be an encouragement to you all as well. Her story is entitled, “Hugs From God.”
“God is evident everywhere, and it brings me great joy to be consciously aware of His presence. There are unique moments or situations though, that are so obviously orchestrated by God, that it feels almost as if He is reaching out with a real hug. I experienced one of those times this past summer while my family and I were on a summer home assignment. To tell the story well though, I have to back up about 11 years…at that time I had laser surgery to correct my eyesight and I had been pleased with the results up until about one year ago, when one of my eyes started to deteriorate. It was something I could live with, but I certainly missed the freedom of sight without limits.
“While back in the States this summer we were planning about a one-month stay in the city where I had originally had the laser surgery done. I called the office and the kind receptionist assured me that I could come in for an appointment with the doctor, but the next available date would be the following month. My heart sank, as I knew we wouldn’t be in the area that long and I told her as much. She responded that occasionally people cancel their appointments, and if that were to happen, she would give me a call. I felt an unusual peace and told her that I would pray about such an opportunity–if God had the laser surgery in mind for me, it would work out. I hung up the phone and not even 15 minutes had passed before the receptionist called back! Her first words were, ‘Wow! Prayer really works! Someone just called to cancel and you now have an appointment for next week.’
“After consulting with the doctor the following week, he was very hopeful that an ‘enhancement’ surgery on my bad eye could indeed fix it, but there was a problem. He was all booked up and didn’t know of any openings in the near future. He said, ‘The best time for you to have this surgery would be tomorrow! Because you still need to have time to come in for a post-op,’ although we both knew that would be impossible because of his schedule.
“But with God all things are possible (Gen. 18:14; Lk. 1:37; 18:27)! I walked to the reception desk from the doctor’s office and she looked up at me and said, ‘How would you like to come in for surgery tomorrow? We just had a cancellation!’ I was stunned and amazed. What an incredible God we serve!
“Another issue regarding the surgery was the cost. An expense like that certainly wasn’t in our budget. We spent the evening before the surgery with friends whom we hadn’t seen in over 18 years. I shared with them how excited I was about the way God had arranged everything so wonderfully for me to be able to have eye surgery the next day.
“The next morning, as I was preparing to go to the clinic, we got an unexpected phone call from our friend we had visited the previous night. He said that God had laid on their hearts the desire to bless us in some way and they wanted to send a check over to cover the whole procedure! So, I went in for the surgery and now I can see better out of my previous bad eye than I can out of the one I thought was so good.
“The whole experience left me with the feeling of being ‘hugged by God’–He so perfectly worked this out in my life just because–I didn’t really need it–but He gave it to me anyway. Just like we as parents love to surprise our children with gifts they don’t have to have, but certainly want. What a joy it is to serve such a loving, heavenly Father!” (“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” …Mt. 7:11)
Some days you just need a hug from someone. Maybe that’s you today. Well, “Cast all your anxiety (care) upon Him, because He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7). You just might receive a “hug from God!”