God At Work Through IM

Hug It Out

Hug It Out

For some, a hug from a loved one is the most comforting feeling in the world. Imagine the joy we will feel when we are embraced by Jesus in Heaven!

Everyone called him “Big Jim.” At well over 6 feet tall and pushing 300 lbs., it was a good nickname. I became part of Big Jim’s life because the court mandated that he receive counseling. Big Jim was previously diagnosed with an unspecified personality disorder, among other things. This meant he could be manipulative, unpredictable, and even aggressive.

 He was convicted for the distribution of methamphetamine. He shared that his drug involvement was out of desperation and that his life had fallen into a “dark place.” Jim’s marriage had been in trouble for many years. The relationship was “co-dependent and toxic,” as he put it. One day, his wife had chosen to divorce him and obtained an order for protection for herself and their young son. That’s when things really spiraled.

 During his incarceration, Jim was able to paint and draw pictures for his son. He shared them with me. Big Jim was an emotionally vulnerable boy, himself, even though he was the size of a Mack truck. He missed his son deeply. He regretted his choices but was willing to face the consequences. Big Jim began to accept his past and to take ownership of his future.

That is how Christ Jesus revealed his unconditional love to Big Jim. He learned about the eternal love of God — a God who chose to forgive him in Christ, despite his sins. It wasn’t easy, though. Jim needed to face his fears. From his youth, Jim was terrified of rejection by the people he loved. As we explored those fears, in view of God’s grace, Jim shared stories about how he was physically and emotionally abandoned by people in his life. All that hurt left a young boy with a choice. He would survive by being the one to abandon others before they could leave him.

Big Jim learned he could not get rid of Jesus so easily, though. He came face to face with a Savior who promised to love him unconditionally and eternally. The Holy Spirit took hold of Jim with these words: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins1 Peter 4:8. Jim soon joined a recovery support group. Released early from jail, he also pursued reunification therapy with his son. Jim continued to meet with me to work through those first encounters with his son. He cried. He laughed. We counseled. We prayed. We grew in trust for one another and in faith in Christ.

The last time I met with Big Jim was to transfer him to another provider. As the final session ended, he grabbed me. I can still feel the hug. At well over 6 feet tall and pushing 300 lbs., it was a strong hug. It was also the embrace of a little boy who learned to let go of his past and who found safety and security in the everlasting arms of a loving Savior.

 As for me, I was grateful for the chance to hug it out with Big Jim.

Pastor Edward Frey

Ministry Behind the Walls

Institutional Ministries is a nonprofit organization established in 1901 that carries out behind-the-walls ministry by shining the light of Jesus’ love into hearts.