Monday, September 24, 2012

The Sense of Touch

A friend of mine is a physician and bit of a Renaissance Man.  Aside from being a skilled surgeon he studies French, geology, economics and is a marathoner.  This month, he’s organizing and hosting an association meeting of doctors in his specialty.  With great enthusiasm, he told me about a video he’s sharing with the other doctors.  After hearing him talk about it, I had to look up the video myself.  I, too, was mesmerized by the speaker’s passion about a simple thing like touch.  I’d like you to take 18 precious minutes of your life and watch this video.

Now, I’d like to remind you of one of the most remarkable moments in the life of Jesus.  Note the sense of touch in these Words from our Sponsor.

And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?”
And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.”
But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.”
When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed.
And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

There is so much to speak about in this passage, but let’s focus on the Physician’s touch.  Jesus was walking through a crowd and noticed that someone touched Him.  Peter, the Attention Deficit Disciple, chides Jesus, “You’re in a crowd, Master, everyone touched you!”  But Jesus lived His life with such compassion that even in a crowd He sensed the touch of a person in dire need.  Jesus’ sense of touch went far beyond what Peter could conceive.  He sensed despair, sorrow, fear, and pain.  What a magnificent sense of touch!

When I was a teenager, my church youth group performed the “Celebrate Life” musical.  I’ve never forgotten one very powerful songs from that musical, “I Quietly Turned To You.”  It’s the songwriter’s interpretation of this moment between Jesus and the woman with a hemorrhage.  Do you have 4 more minutes?  I’d love you to hear the song performed.

Here’s the hook line:
Help of the helpless, friend of the friendless,
I quietly turned to you, and you turned to me.

It’s hard to go through this life without getting a few nicks and dings.  Some of us get outright smacked down.  You ever feel that way?  Abraham Verghese says a physician’s greatest skill is his touch.  He’s right, and the Great Physician, Jesus, demonstrated that sense of touch.  He brought healing to the woman.  Do you think He feels your pain, your sorrow, your need?  Don’t you think He wants to heal you as well?  Trust His touch.

By the way, did you pay attention to Abraham Verghese's closing thought?  Verghese concludes with a reflection on physician's touch conveys to the patient:

I will always, always, always be there.
I will see you through this.
I will never abandon you.
I will be with you through the end.

Hmmm... where have I heard that before?

Clark H Smith

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"For My Own Sake"

Over at It’s Good To Be The Dad blog today, I write about a disciplinary issue I recently faced with one of my sons.  I hope you’ll read all of it.  Let me excerpt main point here:

Recently, one of my sons did something he shouldn’t have.  It was a big deal.  It wounded my trust and a bond I felt we had built.  As we debriefed his transgression and I thought about how to mete out consequences for what he did, something inside of me kept saying, “Whatever you do, don’t let your son’s actions break the relationship you have with him.”  I actually verbalized to him, “I’m not going to let this become a problem between you and me.”

Of course, I believe that “inner voice” was my conscience being informed by the Holy Spirit.  In essence, this was God saying, “Here’s how I would handle it.”  That’s what the Holy Spirit does, He gives us God’s wisdom for how to go about this life on earth.  And it’s usually right on target.  No, it’s always right on target!

Well, here’s the fact, I am God’s son and I have wounded His trust and a bond He wants to have with me.  (So have you.)  In that light, these Words from our Sponsor resound in my soul:

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake,
And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

Did you catch that – “for My own sake”?  We humans tend to see things from our earthly perspective.  We say that God forgives our sin so we don’t suffer the consequences.  We talk about how wonderful it will be to live in Heaven forever.  All true.  But God sees it differently, He’s the Father of the Prodigal Son.  Why we left home, what we did while we were gone, how broke we are, how humiliated we are to drag our lousy butts home… none of that matters (because they have been handled by Jesus on the Cross).  The only thing the Father’s heart cares about is fellowship with us – having us back home where He can lavish His love on us.

I want to amplify this with another, terribly sad story.  Many years ago, I encouraged a young mother to get more involved in activities at the church and get to know some other moms who could encourage her.  She cried as she told me she didn’t want to get close to anyone because they might find out that in a previous chapter of her life she was a stripper.  I tried to assure her that her past was hers to share or withhold.  I felt so bad for the fear that held her back from enjoying supportive fellowship with other followers of Jesus.

Sadder still is the fact that some years after that conversation, this beautiful daughter of God took her own life.  She never saw herself the way her Father did.  She never saw her sin as something that her Father wanted to get out of the way in their relationship - for His own sake!  She saw her sin as a roadblock.  God sees our sin as road kill.  Don’t linger over road kill!

Every one of us have done enough wrong (even one thing) to hurt the heart of God.  But NOT ONE OF US has done so much wrong that the Sovereign Creator of The Universe can’t get over it.  It’s NOT ABOUT YOU!  God doesn’t look at your shaggy life, wallowing with the pigs, and say, “That tears it.  I’m done with you.”  His heart aches, He reaches out to you, through Jesus, and says, “Man are you gonna look great when I was that stink off of you and give you some clean clothes.”

Yes, you live in your world and you have the memory and possibly the guilt of your sins.  AND God has given you this inner voice, a conscience, which is your sixth sense – your spiritual sense – which brings His truth and wisdom into your life.  You hear Him saying, “I’m not going to let this become a problem between you and me.”  Believe that.  Believe in Jesus and believe that God wants to wipe your slate clean because it’s about Him, not you.

Believe that.

Clark H Smith