Squeezing Muscles

The podcast at the end of the article is called: “Why God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer”

My two favorite courses in high school were football and study hall. I know football isn’t a class but it sure interested me more than biology.

Each class in our small high school had a turn in the library for study hall. It was a nice break from the exhausting work of sleeping in English class or talking in science class. This time was especially educational when the teacher on duty that day had to step out for important reasons (coffee probably or a brief stab at quietness and sanity away from the wild animals).
It was great to talk to the girls, gossip with friends, read magazines, etc. If for some unexplained reason, the teacher stayed in his chair instead of going out for a stroll, and all the interesting magazines had been duly read, you could always do homework. That was ostensibly the reason for study hall in the first place.

But something happened in study hall one day, 43 years ago, that stuck in my mind and stayed there all these years. Most of the boys in our little school idolized the football coach, “Coach Mac.” Evidently he drew the short straw that day and ended up tending us in study hall. I was sitting at a table with others when he walked by and touched my right arm. Nothing mean. Coach liked to pat you on the shoulder and smile encouragingly and stuff like that for no special reason.

That day he squeezed the muscle of my arm and said something like, “Wow! What a muscle!” My 14-year old brain knew that I wasn’t Charles Atlas (For you younger readers he was a super-strong man who had been a 97-pound weakling before sprouting muscles everywhere). But I smiled, slightly embarrassed and very pleased that he had noticed me. Still remember that little moment 43 years later. Crazy isn’t it?

Giving Value To Others

Young people have so many questions about themselves and when an adult that they respect affirms them, that makes all the difference. Oh, Coach Mac could let you have it on the football field if you goofed up (or in his history class if you talked too much), but you took it a lot better from someone that you felt cared about you.

You remember people like that. Miss Mary made me want to write because in English class she told everyone that I wrote well. Pastor Van Horn came by when I was an excruciatingly young pastor, struggling to lead a little country church and frankly “on the ropes.” He invited me to work with him. What a privilege to learn how to love people from a pro.

My Uncle Donnie was another who took an interest in me as a young man and showed up at some important times.

Jesus was like that, always looking around to find people to validate and help.

“The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.” (The Message, Mark 10:13)

It’s easy to get nice little fuzzy feelings thinking about this but I suspect there is someone around you who needs a touch, needs to be affirmed. May even be someone that you’d rather not be around, but could you do some small thing to let them know that God values them—and you value them too?

Some people remember a little muscle squeeze for a long time.

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