In Edward T. Welch’s article, “When God Touches the Untouchables” (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, 2012 CCEF), we read:
I remember the first time I touched my wife.
I might have touched her fifty times before I
actually touched her, but none of them counted.
The first time I touched her with intent, I took
her hand, and I think she touched me back.
When you love someone, you touch them.
For those who feel untouchable, have you
noticed that your shame fades away when
someone else touches you intentionally, in love?
Welch uses that example to segue into the Old Testament and then on to Jesus Christ’s touch. Welch calls Jesus the “Touching-King”.
Next, do you believe it? Do you believe that
Jesus responds, “I am willing, be clean”? At this
point we should begin to expect such things. This
is central to his mission statement. Do you believe
what he says? If not, be careful. You are giving more
authority to your worthlessness than you are to
Jesus, and when you make it personal like that, it is
a scary thought. You are essentially saying that Jesus
is not telling you the truth. You are saying that Jesus’
touch is less powerful than Elisha’s. So believe.
The Touching-King. If only we are willing!
As usual, the mental assent is easier than the deed itself. Reception can be difficult.
What if you’ve received cruel touch? What if the ‘New Name’ God promises us seems only to evoke memories of name-calling?
I know, first-hand, that healing is hard work.
No sooner does Jesus respond, “I am willing, be clean” than we are thrown into the most violent wash cycle of our lives.
It might not happen like that for everyone.
I’ve noticed the Lord sends hurricanes my way because I don’t pay attention to light rain.
Recently I’ve become more concerned about the Walking Wound on and off the missions field. I read The Very Worst Missionary (Jamie Wright) and it resonated. How do some people get out there in the first place? How do they stay?
On the other hand, I’ve seen a lot of good workers and a lot of good work.
And I don’t like the way Ms. Wright sometimes seems to cling to the identity of Rebel rather than Christian.
After being wounded on the field, I was walking wary–wary of Christians, wary of workers, wary of anyone who might put me down or not believe my tale of woe.
Walking Wounded, I discovered two things:
- Anyone who had been to the field had a tale of woe to share with me. Some really painful stories.
- Anyone who had not been to the field was properly shocked and horrified.
What is that? Why is that?
Some of it makes me laugh. Like Nik Ripken’s confusing book, The Insanity of God, it is difficult to make sense of.
Here’s a couple gems:
- A medical missionary who shows up with her team in a remote village only to discover that the doctor the team was to partner would be put on trial for manslaughter (a drunk man had visited the doctor and tried to assault him; the doctor had stepped aside, allowing the drunk man to fall off the balcony to his death). The team, understandably, withdrew, except for the one medical missionary who still felt called to that village. She had to change agencies immediately. How’s that for a good start?
- A young man who goes to act as an au pair in a missionary family and winds up involved in family conflict–the marriage is on the rocks, the young man is blamed for the marital difficulty. The young man returns home and the couple is soon after off the field and divorcing.
Do we laugh? Do we cry? Both at once? How do we find the thread of God’s love in that tapestry?
We’re not going to get rid of the wounded. Jesus didn’t exclude these; he invited them in and touched them. He healed them. He faithfully heals us.
But I can’t help but wonder: can we decrease the amount of dysfunction and the resulting damage on the field? Perhaps not, but if we don’t at least attempt to address the existence of the Walking Wound, we’ll see an increase.
I leave you with this thought, getting back to Welch’s Touching-King: Do you remember the first time God touched you? Do you trust him to do it again?
(I ask myself, too.)
– Sister Still