A Simple Touch

“Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days.  They must purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then they will be clean.  But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean.  If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse, they defile the Lord’s tabernacle.  They must be cut off from Israel.  Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, they are unclean; their uncleanness remains on them.
“This is the law that applies when a person dies in a tent: Anyone who enters the tent and anyone who is in it will be unclean for seven days, and every open container without a lid fastened on it will be unclean.
“Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.

  • Numbers 19:11-16

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.  A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  “I am willing,” he said.  “Be clean!”  Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.  Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone.  But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” …
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.  He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

  • Matthew 8:1-4, 14-17

I thought of this post when I was checking my wife’s blood pressure and pulse this morning.  I held her hand, hoping that the blood pressure would be normal.  It was.  I suddenly thought of many things about a simple touch.  They flooded into my head like a tidal wave.

The first was a joke, a joke of a sexual nature (so you have been warned), but other than the context, it is “clean,” at least no sordid details.  It was told by a Captain at Fort Belvoir, VA when I was taking my Engineering Officer Basic Course.  He was teaching us how to clear a minefield.  Of all our instructors, he was the one who had no problem telling jokes.  He started off by canvassing the class for anyone who had been to Louisiana and ended his survey with people who were familiar with Cajun country.  I was the only one that kept my hand raised through the several conditions – meaning I knew the story “could” be true.  Suddenly, this Captain in the US Army, who sounded like he was from an Ivy League school (Columbia in reality, I think), suddenly sounded like my neighbors in southeast Texas with a thick Cajun accent.  Note that the joke may not be appropriate for small children.  Older children already know about such things.

First off, a bayou usually has no inlet or outlet, but it is affected by the tides.  If you know anything about living on the bayou, you know that if you go deep enough into the swamp, there are no longer any paved roads or motor vehicles to drive along the road.  Heck, there ain’t no roads, just a path along the edge of the bayou.  You might have to walk a few miles to get to the general store for supplies, and mostly you just shared with your neighbors, whatever you had.  If your bayou was one of the lucky ones, you might have a restaurant.  Otherwise, you ate at home, or you walked a long ways to another bayou that might have one.  This story happened at a bayou deep in the swamp.
There was an Old Man who was sitting on his front porch, watching other people walk by, the only entertainment along the bayou, and with so few peoples, you might wait a while for that.  A young man came by.  He was dragging hisself, his head hanging low.  The Old Man knew this young man had recently gotten married.  He teased the young man about enjoying the married life so much, the young man had no energy left over to even walk.
The Young Man said that he and his wife had not consummated the marriage yet.  That was the reason why he was so sad and dragging along.
The Old Man asked, “Why is that?”
“We haven’t felt that it was the right time.  Sometimes I thought it was, but she didn’t.  Other times, she thought it was, but I didn’t.”
The Old Man laughed, “Your problem is that you are thinking too much.  Go on with yourself.  Some day soon, you will touch her hand and she will touch your hand.  And you will know.”
The Young Man nodded politely as he took the advice, and he was on his way.  A couple of weeks later, the young man walked by going even slower, dragging even more, and sadder than sadder could ever be.
The Old Man asked, “Have you followed my advice?  Are you now officially a married couple?”
The Young Man said, “Yeah, it happened last night.  That’s why I am so sad.”
The Old Man was startled, “Sad?!  Why is that?!”
The Young Man said, “It happened just as you said.  Last night, we were eating gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and some boudin (pronounced Boo-Daa – the “n” is optional).  While I was eating the gumbo, I dropped my spoon on the floor.  I reached down to pick up the spoon, but my wife, being the sweet and helpful person that she is, she reached down to pick up the spoon too.  My hand touched her hand, and she knew.  Her hand touched my hand, and I knew too.  We passed pleasure, right then and there.”
The Old Man said, “That should be a joyous occasion.  Why are you so sad?”
The Young Man replied, “It was a joyous occasion, but they never will let us back in that restaurant!  I gua-ran-tee!!”

As I held my wife’s hand, I thought of the oddity that is the simple touch.  Early in our married life, we might react the way the young married couple in the joke reacted.  Our pulses would increase.  In this case, the same touch helped her pulse to slow down.  It is not that my wife and I do not love each other anymore.  We love each other even more than ever.  We know each other better than we ever have, and we find that there is still more to know and understand.  It is all a matter of context.

As for the context, let’s look at the Scriptures.  In the first healing of Jesus in the Matthew 8 Scripture above, He could have just told the leper that the leper was healed, but Jesus touched him.  Just as touching someone who is dead makes you unclean, touching a leper was a big no-no.  The context here was that Jesus is God.  He is not going to be contaminated.

Later in Matthew 8, Peter’s mother-in-law is healed by a simple touch of the Master’s hand.

I added the restrictions in Numbers 19 regarding touching a dead body, even if it is a casual touch.  It brings the parable of the Good Samaritan to mind.  The first two people passed without touching.  The first was probably going to the Temple for Temple Duty and would be disqualified if deemed unclean.  The second did not want to go through the seven days of being unclean.  Only the Samaritan checked to see if the guy was still breathing.

More context with regard to a simple touch.

My touch that morning was more for the fact that my wife was ready to go to kidney dialysis.  If her blood pressure was low now, before we left, it might get dangerously low while at the center.  Thus, the early morning blood pressure check was very important.  More context.

And as I drove her to the center, she reached over and touched my hand.  She prayed out loud, as she often does.  She asked that God would protect me.  (On the way home, I dodged several deer who had ventured onto the road, but I hit no deer and no deer hit me.)  She prayed that I would have strength to do the household chores during the three hours I would be home before I had to return to pick her up.  (One load of clothing washed, dried, and folded, the other load in the dryer, the dishes are now washed, the Samaritan’s Purse Children Project gift box is now completely packed, labeled, and money attached to help ship the boxes, the dozen paper facial tissues that my wife left in pockets of her dirty clothing {her usual trick} are now in shreds, but picked up off the floor, dropped during the folding, and now thrown away and nothing left on the clothing either, inside or out.)  She prayed about me being prepared for the next Sunday school class.  (Well ahead on notes and discussion topics, found an extra book to read a quote that is applicable to Acts 16.)  She prayed that I would be inspired to write something, and that is what I am doing now, but I will not finish before I return from picking her up -inspiration still intact.  God delivered on everything that she included in the prayer as she held my hand.  The load of clothing that is in the dryer is comprised of towels, which take longer to dry and are easy to fold.

Touching can make the moment an intimate moment.  As Gloria Gaither said about writing He Touched Me, it was that intimate action of a heavenly God reaching down to touch us that inspired her to produce those lyrics.

It is all a matter of context, and a deep trusting faith in our Lord and Savior.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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