You can't give a virtual hug

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
— John 1:14

Some things are worth the trip!

Chan pulled into my driveway at 5:30 A.M., yesterday morning. That was after we had both battled a recalcitrant website for boarding passes we needed for our flight to PA. And yes, we tried the app, but it was in cahoots with the website.

We hustled to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, where we met the Kevin (Gomie) the third member of our traveling band. We breezed through TSA, grabbed a quick cup of coffee and bite to eat, then dashed across three terminals (that’s another story) only to discover our flight would be delayed an hour.

Not good.

This was already a long trip for a few hours of interaction. And now that interaction was reduced by a precious sixty minutes. Sand was passing through the hour glass. All we could do was watch.

Can someone say, “Frustrating.”

Why the trip? We were on our way to visit leaders at Lancaster Bible College, our educational partner, with whom we have been equipping church planters the last six years. We wanted to make some face-to-face introductions and provide some first-hand observations of LBC strong-suits.

Finally airborne, our clocks took another hit when the pilot approached Philly. We were on the final descent, when at the last moment the captain pulled up and we took a victory lap around the City of Brotherly Love before another descent and touchdown.

Ticktock . . . ticktock . . . ticktock.

We deplaned, skipped the rental shuttle figuring we could outrun it to Hertz (we did). And then we (well, actually “I”) played Mario Andretti as we raced (figuratively and literally) to get to LBC.

We were down to three hours of time on their beautiful campus. So we decided this was going to be the best three hours of our week — and it was.

  • We reconnected.

  • We made new friends.

  • We celebrated God’s work.

  • We shared. We listened. We learned.

  • We planned for days ahead.

  • We shook hands, we gave hugs . . . and then we bolted back to Philadelphia.

Chan dropped me off a little after 10:00 P.M. By my count we traveled 2,124.4 miles from my house for three hours. Some might call that foolish. Some might call it a waste. Some might call it ill-advised.

  • “Have you ever heard of a telephone?”

  • “What about Zoom video conferencing?”

  • “There’s always email or texting you know!”

I hear ya! But the three of us would call it a day well spent.

As I reflected on our traveling Tour de force, I remembered this: God spoke the world into existence through his word. God spoke his words though his prophets. But God was not content with just words. So Jesus, the living Word of God, became flesh and dwelt among us. John writes using very tactile language:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life...
— 1 John 1:1 ESV

God was not content to give virtual hugs. And while we cannot always travel 2,124.4 miles to convey the depth of love and partnership with that hug, God saw fit to make it happen, and on this day so did we.

I’m glad we did.

Sometimes you need to travel 2,124.4 miles to give what a picture, or emoji, or video screen cannot — human touch — gratitude and love expressed, words woven into emotion and written with a hug.