Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:15-16
Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Mark 7:32-35
Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. Mark 1:40-42
I used to work with infant orphans just after the war ended. Many of them were HIV positive. A doctor instructed me that I should wear gloves when I picked them up, because after all I didn’t want to expose myself to their sicknesses. I thought about Jesus, how He touched those who were considered unclean in His day and age. I couldn’t bring myself to wear gloves. If those babies needed a hug, I wasn’t going to first get on a bubble suit and make sure the situation was sanitary. I would hug them, let them sleep in my arms, and trust God to take care of me. I never got sick from holding them, but even if I had, it would have been an opportunity to share in their sufferings. In a small way, I felt that I could give them love in the midst of all the pain they were handed at no fault of their own.
Later, when I got my first case of typhoid, I was rushed down to the city of Kampala along with a pastor. We were put in isolation in the house where we normally stayed. We weren’t allowed to use the same bathroom, silverware, or anything else. They were afraid of us. They wouldn’t touch us or come near us. It was a really hard situation. I remember feeling like such an outcast, so unclean. I understand that they were afraid of “catching” typhoid (which they really couldn’t have so easily), but it felt like a personal attack. It was lonely and painful. God reminded me during that time once again that He touches us.
He reaches through the cultural, socially acceptable and social boundaries put in place, and He reaches out to us.
I experienced His love in a new light when I realized that.
God Himself is not afraid to reach out and touch us in our brokenness, our sickness, or our sorrow.
He will never push us away or put us in isolation. I understand that some conditions do call for people being put into isolation. There are far more people, though, who feel emotionally isolated, who feel left out or forgotten or looked down upon. Jesus never shies away from you. He desires to reach out with His gentle touch and heal You, encourage you, place you under His protective arms of love.
We know a piece of God’s love when we experience His gentle touch in our lives - especially when we have not experienced that from others. Maybe you have experienced the wrathful touch of someone in authority, or the pushing away by a clique who didn’t think you fit in, or maybe you are just plain alone. When I lived in California preparing for the mission field, I remember feeling like I was hungry for physical touch. I had been working with people but hadn’t gotten a hug in a long time. I was volunteering at a church there, and one day they asked me to help out in the nursery. When I went in there, little babies wanted to crawl on my lap and snuggle. Instantly I felt a sense of relief just having human contact. It is an important need and part of survival. How much more, the perfect touch of the Savior?
He is waiting today to reach out and touch your life. You’re not too far, too sinful, or too unlovable for Him. He loves you. Just like He loves the babies who are born with diseases that they don’t deserve, and the missionaries with typhoid, and the lonely widows who feel that no one sees or cares. He cares, He sees, and He is reaching out to you today.