Group Hug

Higher Ground LodgeRecently I had the privilege of serving as Chaplain at Higher Ground Summer Camp in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Throughout the camp each dorm is given multiple opportunities to sit and chat about whatever is on their minds. I have attended many of these chats over the past decade and I have to say they are never boring and to my perpetual amazement young people seem to be far more tuned in to the world around them than we might think. Teens and preteens are concerned about many of the same things that matter to adults. What is so different is that teens and preteens often feel powerless to control their circumstances. They often feel unequipped and unprepared to handle the myriad of challenges that they face.

So there I was with boys’ dorm 3B fielding questions and facilitating discussion about everything from whether we should stomp on little beetles just for fun to why bad things happen to good people. Well, during the course of our time together a young man named Jared asked me a very serious question.  His demeanor in asking the question told me how important this was for him. He leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands in nervous anticipation of how his question would be received. Clearing his throat he managed, “How do I get closer to God?”

Now the me in me tends to answer right away and the answers tend to be less than stellar when that happens but on this occasion I waited to hear from Holy Spirit. What she gave me was worth sharing with the readers of Trinity and Humanity.

As I waited for Holy Spirit she gave me two words and a picture. I looked at Jared and said the two words , “You can’t.” Fear overcame his expression so I asked him to stand up. Now we were going to build the picture. I then asked permission to give him a hug. He agreed and right in front of the whole dorm I embraced him. As I held him tight in my arms I said to him, “Jared, Jesus has embraced you. But this is not a clear enough picture.” I motioned to a staff member named Linn. Linn came over and he wrapped Jared and I in his arms. I then repeated to Jared, “Jared, Jesus has embraced you in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit but this is not a clear enough picture.” I motioned for one of the counselors to come over and Jonathan embraced the three of us. I repeated again, “Jared, Jesus has embraced you in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit with the Father’s embrace.” Then I whispered to him, “Now you tell me how you get closer to this?” Jared was over-joyed to the near point of tears.

You see, Jesus has embraced us in the Holy Spirit with the Father’s embrace. We are in Jesus and He is in us. (Jn 14:20) We may sense a separation we may sense an estrangement but we can never be any closer to Triune God and we can never escape this all-inclusive embrace.

Lord show us and help us feel the group hug that surrounds us all! In Jesus name! Amen.

~ Bill Winn

10 comments so far

  1. Dan Gore on

    Enjoyed that. Thank you.

  2. annestapleton on


  3. Takalani on

    Thanks for sharing the reality of the divine embrace. Beautiful indeed!

  4. Pat on

    Great word picture for young and “Old” alike!!!

  5. David Webb on

    Thanks for ministering making a difference in my son Jared’s life Bill. That made a big impression on him and he talked about the moment I picked him up.

  6. Tony on

    Nice to be all wrapped up in the Hug of Love.

  7. Jeannine on

    That put tears in my eyes too, Bill! Lovely post and I’m going to use your demonstration with my kids tonight!


  8. Joe Radosti on

    Love it! Not for a moment has the Father abandoned the Son not even at the cross (2 Cor. 5:19).

  9. Carrie Smith on

    What an incredibly beautiful picture and story! Thank you, Bill for sharing this moment.

  10. Bill Winn on

    Thanks everyone for the kind comments.

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