Have you ever been holding hands in a prayer circle, and when the last amen is said, the person next to you has a spontaneous hand spasm?
This unusual phenomenon seems to happen worldwide. I've experienced the “amen spasm” in Germany, China, Russia, Hungary, Mexico and other countries where I've served.
As a junior high student, I didn't mind the amen spasm too much. The trick was to stand beside the girl you liked the most. If the youth pastor told everyone to hold hands, that meant God had shown up, and it was a good night at church. Squeezing the hand of the girl next to you was the junior high version of giving a hug.
Somehow, the squeezing of the hands spilled over into my family. When my two boys were very young, they had to hold our hands whenever my wife or I took them somewhere. I told them, “When I squeeze your hands, I'm sending you a message that says, ‘I love you.'”
This became our secret code. I don't know how many times I squeezed my sons' hands as they were growing up, but it worked both ways.
As they grew older, holding hands became less important and even awkward. Eventually, the hand squeezes stopped.
As I've grown older, I'm becoming more aware how quickly time slips away from us. When you're young, you think you have forever to tell your loved ones how much you care about them. Now I can see clearly how many opportunities I've missed to assure my sons of my love. Instead of living with regrets, I've done my best to become a better father — not easy when your children are grown.