Catching Up w/ Kaleigh: A Hug in Hilton Head

— Today’s post was one of Kaleigh’s last before she flew to the Philippines THIS week! Please join me in lifting her up in prayer. — Tiffany

By Kaleigh Ward

My toes were buried in the sand, the sun was browning my skin, and I was surrounded by the sound of crashing waves and delighted children.

From kaleighward.theworldrace.org

Grant was by my side and his family sat all around me, always ready to boogie board and laugh and photograph and talk and eat.

I had spent the last few days flying kites and eating seafood and practicing handstands on the beach with my best friend.

I was in the middle of one of the best weeks of my life when out of nowhere, I was overcome with fear and hurt.

Suddenly, I was painfully aware that my remaining time with Grant was dwindling from days to hours.
Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking about how soon this magical week would end.
Suddenly, I was buried under anxiety over goodbyes and packing and having my life turned completely upside down.

As my emotions welled up, I quickly grew angry that these fears were stealing precious hours of this vacation, and that anger led to even more emotions welling up.

By lunchtime, I was in tears.  Grant did his best to comfort me, but it still wasn’t enough.  I needed something more… I needed God.

A few hours later, I sat down to do my quiet time.

God immediately led me to Isaiah 55:12.

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

I knew God was trying to speak to me, but I still felt anxious and sad.  I couldn’t find the peace I so desperately needed.

I began to cry out in prayer, “God, I need you so much right now.  I know on an intellectual level that you’re trying to speak to me and comfort me through this verse, but I need even more of You.  I have a tangible need for You.  I need You to wrap Your arms around me and hug me.  Only You can comfort and strengthen me and give me peace.  Please love on me.  Please hug me.”

I wiped my tears away, closed my Bible, and stood up to get ready for dinner.  Within seconds, Mrs. Meredith, Grant’s mom, entered the room.  She walked straight towards me and said, “I’m just acting on an impulse,” and wrapped her arms around me and gave me a huge hug.

As she held me tightly, I knew that hug was from my Father– not just because of the incredible timing, but also because in the midst of that hug, my heart was flooded with a Heavenly peace that didn’t leave when she let go.

I finally felt the calming comfort I had been longing for.  I went on to have one of my favorite nights of vacation.  I enjoyed a big plate of southern cooking and then visited a beautiful harbor where I watched dolphins glide by as the sun set over the water.

Even as the week came to an end, an end I had been dreading, I felt at peace.  God gave me grace and strength for each moment– and it all started in that hug.

Mrs. Meredith was acting on an impulse she felt to hug me, and in the process she became the very hands and feet of God.

Have you ever felt an impulse to reach out to someone?  Oftentimes, we dismiss those impulses as a crazy idea.  We think there’s no way it was from God.  We think we’ll embarrass ourselves.  We think we’ll offend the person we’re drawn to or make them uncomfortable.

However, the truth is that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through those impressions on our soul, and when we step out in obedience and faith, we get to be God’s hands and feet as we bring His love and peace to someone who desperately needs it.

Next time you feel that sudden urge to call a family member with a specific Bible verse or buy flowers for a stranger or even just hug a friend, step out and do it!  It is in those little steps of faith, those little acts of compassion that we act as the body of Christ and release the love and comfort of the Father into the lives of those around us.


My good friend Kaleigh is preparing to go on The World Race, a mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months. Check back for updates from around the world over the next year! Follow Kaleigh’s World Race Blog. — Tiffany

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