Spirituality: Reach out and touch God

Spirituality: Reach out and touch God

Jul. 5, 2013 12:21 PM

Written by

Norris Burkes


Probably the most meaningless apology we give in our culture is the
one we express when we accidentally brush against someone in a crowd.
Our response is something like "I'm sorry," or "Excuse me" and it's
nearly as useless as the "gesundheit" offered after a sneeze.

I say useless because our touch is likely just an unintentional brush
with someone sharing the same space we occupy. We apologize more
because we've committed a social faux-pas than because we are actually

No, this column isn't a rant against good manners; I just think it's
too bad we have to say we're sorry for giving someone a human touch,
accidental or otherwise.

Truthfully, our apology might be better spent in those moments when we
fail to give people a caring touch. I really think that it is our
failure to touch that is often much more harmful.

There's an incident recorded in the Christian gospels about a woman
who sought a healing touch for 12 years. She was sick with a bleeding
disorder and spent her savings on doctors who proved unable to help

In desperation, she used the crowd cover to surreptitiously touch the
hem of Jesus' robe. The Biblical record claims that this brush with
the divine miraculously healed the woman and stopped her hemorrhaging.

Interestingly enough, instead of saying, "Pardon me, ma'am," Jesus
asked, "Who touched me?"

The dumbfounded disciples responded with "Didn't you notice that
you're in a crowd?" Their question implies that they were annoyed with
Jesus' expectation that they would be able to identify any specific
individual in such a large crowd. Anyone who has experienced a
pressing Independence Day crowd or the bustle of holiday shoppers
knows the impossibility of Jesus' question.

The truth is that touching someone or seeking the touch of another is
always a risky thing. If, like this woman, you touch someone seeking
help, you risk the humiliation of rejection. Perhaps that's why Jesus'
question made this woman duck in shame.

Perhaps she thought, "Who am I to approach such a masterful teacher
for healing? What makes me think I'm that important?"

That's what shame does to us. It causes us to question our worth. It
causes us to distance ourselves from those who would help us.

According to Luke 8, "Jesus insisted, 'Someone touched me. I felt
power discharging from me.' Immediately the woman blurted out her
story — why she touched him and how at that same moment she was

However, it was what Jesus said next that interests me most.
"Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you're healed and
whole. Live well, live blessed!"

At the end of the day faith always is about risk. It's risking
something you have to receive something of higher value — your
personal healing.

In reading the story, you might ask, "This woman had nothing to lose,
so why wouldn't she risk touching Jesus?" Yet, I suspect she had a
great deal to lose. After all, she had somehow managed a precarious
existence for 12 years and with that single touch, she risked losing

When I consider how she risked her status quo for a touch from God, I
have to ask myself, where is my faith? And what do I risk? My prayer
for us today is that we take that risk. Seek a touch and seek to be
touched. Live well, live blessed.

Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author
of "No Small Miracles." He is as an Air National Guard chaplain and is
board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. Call him
at 321-549-2500. email ask@thechaplain.net or visit his website at
www.thechaplain.net. Write him at P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, Calif.,

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