Day One: Knowing God through Our Sense of Touch
Scripture: Mark 10:16
In Marks’ gospel, immediately after chastising the disciples for hindering the children, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Then Jesus “took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” We may be so used to these stories that we miss a chance to enter this remarkable scene. When the God of all creation came into human form, he took time to give his full attention to children, embracing and enjoying and blessing them. The God of the universe has time to delight in these small ones who are usually overlooked.
There are many moments in the Gospels when we read of people wanting to touch Jesus, reaching for him in hopes he will heal them. Of course, he was happy to heal people and at the same time, I wonder if it sometimes felt transactional to him. Imagine if the main reason people wanted to touch you was to get something from you. This encounter between Jesus and the children is not a transactional kind of touch. Instead, this is tender human touch for the sake of tender human touch. This is the kind of God we follow.
Sadly, in this life we don’t often get hugged by God in the way these children were. There are some days when I could really use a literal hug from God. Imagine what a hug from an eternal, all-loving being might be like! True embrace of our true selves.
But if God made all things and gave us senses to experience them, perhaps every experience of warmth and welcome is an experience that God ultimately designed to reveal his loving embrace? Our work, as followers, is to choose to see every painful experience as a twisted version of his good plan for this life and every beautiful, peaceful, blissful experience as a sign that some of creation’s goodness has survived the fall.
So to receive God’s embrace we may have to open our imaginations to the possibility that we’re always in God’s embrace. Everything it takes for us to experience a warm shower, a soft sweater, a kind caress, is something God invented and created. Can we choose to receive them directly from God as an expression of his love and goodness?
Maybe a literal hug from an eternal, all-loving being would be so much more immersive than a hug from another human? Maybe it would take a whole family, a whole church, a whole beautiful world to experience it? It may take many forms and be in every place, if we would just be open to its embrace.
Respond: Take some time today to isolate the sense of touch in ordinary daily experiences, maybe while enjoying the perfect temperature of your shower, the softness of your sheets or the silkiness of your dog’s ears. Slow your mind and be present. We’re so used to being bombarded with sensory experiences that we may forget how pleasant they are in their own right. Sure, it might not fix your problems, release your depression or help you get your work done, but it may, just for a moment, help you feel alive and loved. What if, when God invented this sensory experience and the senses you’d need to enjoy it, He knew that you’d enjoy it on this day and that knowledge gave him delight. How does this make you think about God in new ways?