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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jonquils blooming by our shed.
Daily we see new signs of Spring

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"The Compassionate Touch"

"Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him" (Mark 4:41).

Brooksyne has a  volunteer ministry in two local nursing homes and an assisted living center. She plays the piano and leads residents in Hymn Sings.  When time permits she visits the residents one by one coming to know many of them by name.

Some of the less acceptable people of society, though not necessarily elderly, also reside in these institutions.  Due to their limited mental capacity or severe physical deformities they've been delegated to these settings for necessary care. Many of them have a desperate need for a loving human touch that stands in great contrast to mere medical procedures or hygiene assistance supplied by staff personnel.

"A leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean" (Mark 4:40). In the Bible times leprosy was a disease that had severe social consequences. Throughout the Bible you can read about this and thus the leper's extreme reticence in approaching the Lord. He was accustomed to being shunned; an outcast from his peers, even his own family.

"Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him." What Christ did in stretching out His hand and touching the leper was very significant. This man was so unaccustomed to human touch that this act of kindness by Jesus must have been extremely meaningful.

Try to imagine what it would be like to live devoid of the touch of other people, such as leprous people are consigned to. I am so blessed with a happy marriage (32 years this May) and so many other sources of compassionate human touch I enjoy.  In our home we regularly enjoy a family hug, where we essentially gather in a huddle and all hug at once. I know many of you have similar blessings which can easily be taken for granted.

But there are many others who live in loneliness and crave human touch. Some of you reading this message know from personal experience just what I'm talking about. Let me illustrate by sharing the following true story:

Several years ago a childless widow lived alone.  She made dinner every night for one and had conversation with none.  Most of her closest friends had died, people rarely stopped by, and her phone never rang.  She experienced a loneliness that grew day by day.  She longed to fellowship with her brothers and sisters, to hear their conversation, and to feel their touch. Her fragile health forced her to be quarantined in her loneliness for a number of weeks.

One Sunday morning she mustered all the strength she could to dress and get ready for church.  Her anticipation grew as she thought about how good it would be to meet with others again. She pictured herself receiving a handshake, maybe a hug from her sisters in Christ. She needed to feel the warmth of someone's flesh besides her own.

She attended the service but returned to her home even more desperate and lonely.   You see, the people didn't even notice as they filed past her. No word of greeting, not one handshake was extended to this lonely widow.  No warm conversation took place such as "It's so good to see you again, we've missed you.  How are you feeling?"

Today people all around you need the compassionate touch. For many it's just one more component to wholeness. But others are sorely lacking and desperately need someone to reach out and touch them, to give them a few minutes of their time. Let us, as the body of Christ, be
 representatives of His Hand extended!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Lord, lay some soul upon my heart and love that soul through me.  If  encouragement is needed, then encourage through me.  If  a warm touch is needed, then touch through me.  If a prayer is needed, then pray through me Lord Jesus.  Help me to see those whom others might overlook.  I want to represent You, Jesus, and have a heart of compassion toward others.  Amen.

Brooksyne's note: I read the true story about the lonely widow many years ago. It has served as a continual reminder not to overlook the quiet individual who may easily fade into the background of more prominent church personalities or the friends I meet up with week after week. Before the service begins I make it a point to shake the hands of widows, widowers, and people with ongoing health challenges. In the back of my mind I ask, "Who needs the human touch of a handshake or perhaps a hug today?"

Brooksyne with Sara
Brooksyne with her new friend, Sara
Here's a story illustrating today's theme that Brooksyne experienced recently.  Sara is a widow who suffers from a severe form of scoliosis which adversely affects her heart and lungs.  Learn more about how God met her physical and emotional need by clicking the story link.

Stephen's note: As a pastor I served in churches where we often hugged each other in addition to firm handshakes and other appropriate physical expressions of care.  In my public school years I recall teachers who would express their personal interest in similar ways. (I also recall getting a well-deserved spanking at Cambridge Elementary School in Belton Missouri that I managed to live through and my parents did not threaten a lawsuit. In fact I am sure I got in double trouble when I got home!)

Roxie in Donegal Creek
Yesterday we shared a story about Roxie in the creek. Here's a photo.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"If We Are The Body"  Video

"We Are The People Of God"  

"Be Love In Me"  Audio

"Jesus Loves Me"  Audio

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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