When God Reaches Out To Touch You
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Once you have seen the hand of God that reaches out towards His created subjects, you will never forget it. I’m thinking of the tremendous work done by Michelangelo in the Sistine chapel. In that simple depiction is the story of the entire Bible–God reaching out to touch us at the point of our needs. All theology only puts meaning to that truth. All history only demonstrates it. Unlike angry deities who must be satisfied with blood sacrifice–sometimes even the life of your firstborn–the God of the Bible is a loving God who reaches out to touch you at the point of your need, where you hurt.
Long ago Isaiah wrote, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). Question: When someone reaches out with his hand to touch you, how do you respond? How you answer that question probably reveals a lot about your culture, but more than that about you as a person.
It reveals your security or your insecurity. How so? Well, for a starter, individuals who are paranoid don’t want to touch or be touched. I remember once staying in the home of a pastor whose wife had a phobia of germs. No, she would not shake hands with anyone. So obsessed with the fear of germs and the possibility of catching something, she would wash her hands until they were red and chapped. How different is the reaction of two young people in love whose hands seem to be joined in a perpetual clasp.
Sociologist Sidney Guerron did a study of how people touch each other, and in doing so he traveled the world observing people. He discovered that people meet and converse in public places–coffee shops, tea houses, restaurants and so forth –so he would go somewhere and stay for the entire day, just watching, counting the number of times people would touch each other. In Latin America, he saw a lot of touching. He concluded that some 180 times a day, there was some kind of meaningful contact with other people. In France, not so much–110 times a day there was physical contact, but when he went to England, he saw almost no display of public contact. In Japan, people bowed but unless there was western influence, there were few, if any, contacts.
A Harvard study says that people who grow up in homes where there is warm physical contact are 71% less likely to suffer health problems such as ulcers and heart disease. How is that for scientific proof that certifies the obvious?
Going back to Michelangelo’s image of God’s hand reaching for you, it’s comforting to know that it was He who initiated the search, sending His Son to touch our lives, to bring us back into harmony with His plan and purpose. But a study of those whom Jesus touched reveals He broke with social tradition and freely touched the untouchables–the lepers, the fallen of life, those who were rejects of society, and there was no thought of being defiled by reaching out and touching someone.
There is healing in a touch, so says author and physician Dr. Karl Menninger, and the more estranged and paranoid we are, the more we pull away from each other and from God as well.
Let God touch your life, and with His touch will come emotional and spiritual healing, and the freedom that lets you reach out and touch someone else. That’s what happens when God first touches you. It’s still true.