I came across a short article I had saved from the newspaper a few years back about a man in Punta Gorda, Florida who was going to extreme measures to meet women. The man, described by the news report as “short and dumpy” had been going around town faking choking episodes, apparently to get attention from women. He would flail his arms and cough in desperation. After a woman would rush over to help, he would shower her with gratitude, hugs and kisses.
The sheriff’s office got about a half-dozen calls about “the Choking Man,” as the Charlotte Sun Heralddubbed him. Women who had “saved” him described him as being in his mid-30’s, 5-foot-6 and 245 pounds, with a bald spot and moustache. No criminal charges were filed however. “There’s been no crime,” said sheriff Bob Carpenter. “Our hands are tied here.”
No, seeking a little attention and affection is not a crime, though his methods were a little unorthodox, if not downright creepy. His was an extreme case, and it was both sad, and funny. It sounded more like a fraternity prank or spring break dare than anything, but I guess it worked for the poor guy more than a few times, so he kept it up. And he was apparently desperate enough to try just about anything.
It reminded me of another guy I heard about who wasn’t very good with the ladies, so he decided to go down to the local library to do a little research so he could learn to be more romantic. He finally found what looked like the perfect book for him, with the title “How to Hug” written prominently on the side. But when he got home, he realized it was actually Volume 7 of a set of encyclopedias. (I realize that there’s a generation who won’t get that joke, because Encarta and Wikipedia don’t come in volumes like that, but hopefully the rest of you who remember actual books will catch on.)
The truth is, we all need a hug and a little attention every now and then. We need someone to notice us, to listen to us, to care about us…to love us. It sure helps to have someone around us who will let us know we matter, who will speak a kind word, offer an encouraging smile, or pat us on the back and tell us we’re going to make it. And what better place to find those things than in the context of God’s family, the church.
My prayer for our church is that our fellowship would provide a safe place for people to come to find support, friendship, attention, and yes, even a hug. As the body of Christ, we are in effect the hands and feet of our Lord, reaching out to the weary and hurting, the stressed-out and broken, in His name. We love them, as the apostle John reminded us, because He first loved us.
I hope you can be with us this Sunday at Shelby Crossings as we gather together to worship Him, and to share in what it means to be His family. You don’t even have to fake like you’re choking…and you still might get a hug!
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.