Just Like Jesus - The Touch of God
Max encourages us to think about our hands. “All of us learned early that the hand is suited for more than survival—it’s a tool of emotional expression. The same hand can help or hurt, extend or clench, lift someone up or shove someone down.”
“Oh, the power of our hands. Leave them unmanaged and they become weapons: clawing for power, strangling for survival, seducing for pleasure. But manage them and our hands become instruments of grace—not just tools in the hands of God, but God’s very hands. Surrender them and these five-fingered appendages become the hands of heaven.”
Max says that Jesus completely surrendered his hands to God. In Matthew 8 a leper called out to Jesus “Lord, you can heal me if you will.” Jesus could have just spoken a word and the leper would have been healed but he chose to reach out his hand to heal his loneliness as well.
Max wonders what the leper was thinking. “For five years no one touched me. No one. Not one person. Not my wife. Not my child. Not my friends. No one touched me.”
“I was untouchable. I was a leper. And no one touched me. Until today.”
“What is common to you, I coveted. Handshakes. Warm embraces. Small moments were taken from my world. Even the rabbis kept their distance from me. I was not permitted in the synagogue. Not even in my own house.”
“In scripture the leper is symbolic of the ultimate outcast: infected by a condition he did not ask seek, rejected by those he knew, avoided by people he did not know, condemned to a future he could not bear. And in the memory of each outcast must have been the day he was forced to face the truth: life would never be the same.”
Max tells a childhood story of regret. A friend’s father was a drunk and that fact became an issue with all of his friends. Max writes: “Jerry, the son of a drunk. Kids can be hard, and for some reason we were hard on Jerry. He was infected. Like the leper, he suffered from a condition he didn’t create. Like the leper, he was put outside the village.” In today’s environment too many kids know about bullying.
“The divorced know this feeling. So do the handicapped. The unemployed have felt it, as have the less educated. Some shun the unmarried moms. We keep our distance from the depressed and avoid the terminally ill.”
“Only God knows how many Jerrys are in voluntary exile—individuals living quiet, lonely lives infected by their fear of rejection and their memories of the last time they tried. They choose not to be touched at all rather than being hurt again.”
Max says the touch did not heal the leprosy, but Jesus’s words did the healing of the disease. “The loneliness, however, was treated by a touch from Jesus.”
“Oh, the power of a godly touch. Haven’t you known it? The doctor who treated you, or the teacher who dried your tears? Was there a hand holding yours at a funeral? Another on your shoulder during a trial? A handshake of welcome at a new job? A pastoral prayer for healing? Haven’t we know the power of a godly touch?” Our primary care physician has often placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed for my health.
“Can’t we offer the same?”
“Many of you already do. Some of you have the master touch of the Physician himself. You use your hands to pray over the sick and minister to the weak. If you aren’t touching them personally, your hands are writing letters, dialing phones*, baking pies. You have learned the power of a touch.”
“But others of us tend to forget. Our hearts are good: it’s just that our memories are bad. We forget how significant one touch can be. We fear saying the wrong thing or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we do nothing at all.”
I gave the paragraph above emphasis because it describes me so well. I’ve used this as an excuse to do nothing for way too long. Along with this excuse I’ve used, “God did not give me this talent” or “Well I do other things” and “Bob really has the talent for doing that, so I’ll leave it up to him”. The odds are that you cannot give me an excuse I haven’t used. Think about James 4:17, NLT: "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it."
The following quote is from Dean Omish in his book, Love and Survival: “Anything that promotes feelings of love and intimacy is healing; anything that promotes isolation, separation, loneliness, loss, hostility, anger, cynicism, depression, alienation, and related feelings often leads to suffering, disease, and premature death from all causes”
I’m working on correcting this part of my life. First, I suspect that Satan has a hand in my lack of action, so I pray for God’s help. I have begun to produce greeting cards on my computer. They aren’t slick, shiny nor in color. Using quotes from online are much better than any I can come up with. It’s sitting in the out mail now because I’m wondering if I selected the right quote. Will it hit a nerve, etc. This is NOT easy but it’s necessary. Thanks to Paula Smith, who has her own card ministry, for sharing ideas with me and providing encouragement.
Max closes the chapter with the following; “Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? If your fear of doing the wrong thing prevents you from doing anything, keep in mind the perspective of the lepers of the world. They aren’t picky. They aren’t finicky. They’re just lonely. They are yearning for a godly touch.”
“Jesus touched the untouchables of the world. Will you do the same?”
*This book was written in 1998. There are stories of showing today’s kids a rotary phone and they have no idea what they are. I’m so old that I remember in Paris, TN we would pick up the phone and the operator would say “number, please” . Our number was 169. We went to rotary phones in about 1963.
Max’s Study Guide:
Spend a few minutes thanking the Lord for those who have taken the time to show you compassion or kindness when you needed it most. Bring them by name before the Lord. Then tell them personally, through a note or phone call, what their ministry to you has meant.
Ask God to show you someone that needs that special “Godly touch.” Chances are you already know who it is. If you sense some resistance on your part (“ Not him/her! Not me—I can’t”), ask the Lord to make your hands into his and surrender them to him.
Just Like Jesus written by Max Lucado, Published by Word Publishing – 1998 – Used with permission