On touch

Chris Friberg shares in this morning’s Fruit of the Vine a story about her husband’s father, Carl, who had “agreed to join a small group from our church.” The group was exploring what it means to be a Christian, and at one meeting the question up for discussion was, “If you could have anything in the world, what would you ask for?”

“Carl said, ‘I’d get a drink.’ When he saw their puzzled expressions, he went on to explain that he was an alcoholic – so desperate for a drink, he felt like he was on fire.’”

Members of the group surrounded Carl and prayed for him. Some “put their arms around him, praying earnestly.”

That’s what we do when we’re overwhelmed. We pray. Or we offer to pray. It can feel empty. But sometimes it’s all that we have. And something happened to Carl.

“He confessed to me,” Chris writes, “that the group’s physical touch moved his heart as much as their prayers. Although he was kind, hospitable, and generous, he was also very lonely. ‘Other than your family,’ he said, ‘I can’t remember the last time anyone has actually reached out and touched me.’”

Being together is such an integral part of being human that we don’t necessarily think about how we do it or why. It just is. 

Unless it isn’t.

There's this pendulum that swings through our lives. Acceptance and rejection. Belonging and isolation. Love and loneliness.

Jesus touched lonely people with his words. Jesus also touched them: “the blind man, the children, the woman who touched the hem of his robe – even the leper.”

We can do the same for each other.

Chris offers this prayer for us: “Lord Jesus, give me wisdom for the right words when I’m encouraging a hurting person, and when it’s right, remind me to put my arm around them.”

Eric Muhr