A woman touched me last Sunday.
There was no meaning in it. It was just a glancing touch. My arm was draped over the chair that separated us as she tried to share the same space.
Feeling a slight brush on my jacket’s edge caused me to recoil my arm in surprise. She apologized for startling me.
Attempting to occupy the same space is a bit of a social faux-pas in our culture. We say we’re sorry when our misstep causes someone to pause and guess our direction down an office hallway.
In a way, it’s sad that we feel we have to say we’re sorry for giving someone a human touch.
Truthfully, we might consider an apology when we fail to touch. I think failing to touch is a much more harmful thing.
There’s a story told in the Christian gospels about a woman who sought to be touched for 12 years. She was sick with a bleeding disorder and had spent her savings on doctors who proved unable to help her.
In desperation, she used the cover of a crowd to seek the touch of Jesus. Slipping in behind him, she touched the edge of Jesus’ robe.
The Biblical record says her hemorrhaging stopped, prompting Jesus to ask, “Who touched me?”
The disciples were dumbfounded with the surprise implied in Jesus’ question and responded with something like, ‘Duh, Jesus, everyone is touching you.
Didn’t you notice that you’re in a crowd?’ They seemed to have interpreted Jesus’ question as one of annoyance. Their interpretation was somewhat logical.
Who hasn’t been perturbed by the pressing of a crowd on July 4 or at a mall during the holidays?
Touching or seeking to be touched always is a risky thing. If you touch someone to help them, you risk receiving their anger or perhaps even hurting them.
If, like this woman, you touch someone seeking a healing from them, you risk humiliation. At first, 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 ourselves to the point of diminishing 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 healed.’ 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!’
Faith always is about risking. It’s a risk of something you have to receive something of the highest value — your personal healing. You might think this woman had nothing to lose, so why not touch Jesus.
Yet, I suspect she had a great deal to lose. After all, she had somehow existed for 12 years and now she risked losing that precarious existence.
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.