“Touch has a memory.” John Keats
The Gospel of Luke records a life-changing touch:
“As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.”
The needs of this world are massive.
Physical. Emotional. Relational. Spiritual.
Ultimately, there is a God-Shaped hole that humanity is trying to fill.
Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia wrote, “We become aware of the void as we fill it.”
St. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.”
The length of people’s pain and the despair of not knowing if it will ever go away are excruciating.
The multitudes try so many ways to take away the pain.
The masses pray so many prayers to remove the chains of injustice.
I am reminded of the pain of young girls I have met in Niger, Africa who have been sold off to marriage much too young, whose bodies are too immature to carry a baby and are now experiencing the shame of a medical condition called fistula, where they cannot hold their fecal matter and urine, and have become outcasts to their own families and in their own villages.
The operation to fix them is simple in the western world, yet it seems like an impossible dream in the deserts of West Africa.
Maybe you can relate somehow.
Your pain has caused you shame.
You have tried everything. You feel hopeless. You feel like an outcast.
Redemption seems like an impossible dream, very far away.
“She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.”
Jesus has the power to heal and two thousand years later, those of us of faith, we are called the body of Christ and now we have the power to heal.
We have the power to heal through touching people’s lives with dignity, love, hope and prayer.
Mother Teresa said it like this:
“Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes
You are his body”
“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked.”
While being crushed by the masses, Jesus notices the touch of one woman.
With the overwhelming needs of the crowd, he feels the pain of one.
With the noise of our world at an all-time deafening high, can we still hear the one?
A young man walked into our early morning Sunday church service, beaten up and bleeding from a bar fight, his clothes and pours emitting the stench of way too much alcohol he had consumed the night before. He sat down 4 seats away from a woman in her 70’s who was properly dressed and had come to worship her Lord and learn about his goodness.
When she saw this bloody, smelly young man, her heart broke and she moved over to the seat next to him and touched his hand, and she became the body of Christ, and with no judging or shame, she held it while the music played, and healing began.
This man has not missed a Sunday since that fateful morning and now he has become an agent of healing himself.
The New Testament writer James wrote, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”
Today, with all the noise, be still, listen and you will be surprised how God wants to use you to heal others.
English scholar and Bible translator William Tyndale stated boldly, “The Church is the one institution that exists for those outside it.”
“When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’”
Peter saw the crowd, Jesus saw the individual.
Jesus saw an individual in need of individual redemption.
I have a friend who used to see the homeless as a crowd and he judged and looked the other way.
And then he met an individual homeless man, heard his story and his heart broke and now he is one of the leading advocates in our county for the rights and resources for the homeless.
Do you see mankind as a faceless crowd or are you asking God to show you the individual who has a name and a story and needs to know that healing is possible?
“But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’”
When we see each person as an individual, redeemable by God, we will get drained and we will need to be refueled by the Holy Spirit.
Being drained is part of the process of being an agent of healing for God.
If we see everyone as a crowd, we will not get drained and not have to depend upon the spirit.
Because Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted, he would spend much time alone with his Father before he would spend time with the crowds.
Early in my life, I tried to pace myself too much, trying to preserve my energy that I was mustering up on my own.
20 years later, I have more energy, I am more involved, more invested, depending on Jesus to refuel me.
We pace ourselves, waiting for the moment to give it our all.
Stop waiting, the moment is now. SEIZE THE DAY!
Do not be afraid to be drained. God will fill you back up again.
The beautiful and talented Sophia Loren once stated, “If you haven’t cried, your eyes can’t be beautiful.”
Entering into the pain of humanity and becoming an agent of healing is hard and painful, but it will make your soul beautiful.
“Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.”
I have learned that broken, hurting desperate people lead the way in transparency and humility leading to transformation and healing.
Like the tax collector standing in the shadowed corners of the temple, beating his chest crying out, “God have mercy on me, I’m a sinner!”, people who know they are broken are the ones who come to God just as they are and are ushered into his redemptive, healing arms.
This makes religious people nervous.
Religious people work so hard at looking dignified and well-put together that they miss out on the healing touch of God.
When the church I go to started welcoming broken, hurting people into our services, the rawness and honesty of their confessions of who they were and how God had taken their darkness and replaced it with grace made the more established, well-rehearsed religious people nervous.
One man, seeing people who were far from God now finding God and his mercies, actually stated in disgust, “I wish it was the way it used to be.”
The way it used to be was a few dozen people, all dressed in suits, toting Bibles from the same translation, coming to church, judging the world, thanking God they were not like them and going home feeling justified.
NO THANKS! I never want it to be the way it used to be.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
Henry Ward Beecher said, “The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.”
“Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’”
When we treat each person with dignity, as an individual, understanding they have been created by God for eternity, and when we take the time to notice them, invest in them, redeem them…then…somehow…supernaturally…their faith begins to rise…and in the words of Jesus…THEIR FAITH WILL HEAL THEM!
Faith rises in people when we pay attention and notice them.
As we choose to love our world, faith will replace fatalism, hope will replace despair.
My job is to pay attention, love and accept everyone.
My job is to bring value to their life. No exceptions.
Now is the time. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is far away.
In the words of Bridget Willard, “Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.”