The Blessing, Part 2

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Our Family Devotions this week take an in-depth look at the first element of "The Blessing" - Meaningful Touch

 

MONDAY, April 22

Then his father Isaac said to [Jacob], “Please come close and kiss me, my son.” Genesis 27:26

As we start this new workweek, we will look in depth at the first element of the Blessing: meaningful touch.  From our study of the five Love Languages, we know that some people prefer love to expressed through physical touch.  The Blessing indicates that though some may prefer love expressed that way, everyone needs the affirmation and acceptance that meaningful physical contact provides.  In fact, studies show that adult men and women need between 8 and 10 meaningful touches per day! So what is meant by “meaningful touch?” Well, here’s what it’s not: “When I (Gary Smalley) cited this UCLA study, I noticed a man in the second row reach over and begin patting his wife on the shoulder and counting, ‘One, two, three...’  That is not meaningful touching!”  Meaningful touching is “a gentle touch, stroke, kiss, or hug given by significant people in our lives (a husband or wife, parent, close friend, and so on).  What is more, research has shown that meaningful touch has tremendous health benefits for both people – the giver and the receiver.  God created us to be warmly touched, to give blessing through our touch, and even to receive health benefits from it.  How often do you give meaningful touch to your spouse?  Your children?  Your parents?  As we take the time to touch the people God has placed in our lives, we are blessing them with a gift that God gave us purely for our enjoyment and benefit.  Take time today to hug, kiss, rub, or hold the people whom you live with.

Pray for those who live alone and that your eyes and heart would be open to those who may need to receive meaningful touch from you.

 

 

TUESDAY, April 23

And Joseph said to his father, “they are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.” And he said, “Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.”  Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.  Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.  Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head… And his left hand on Manasseh’s head.”  Genesis 48:9-10, 14

Parents who want to defend their children from hurt and harm caused by poor choices should bless them with meaningful touch them as often as possible – and don’t stop just because your children have matured into young men or women.  Fathers especially often stop touching their children after the elementary years, but we are in need of touch long after that – and perhaps even more so during the turbulent adolescent years.  In fact, parental touch can help keep youth from promiscuous behavior and dangerous lifestyles.  “Promiscuous men and women, women who work as prostitutes, and women who repeatedly have unwanted pregnancies have told researchers that their sexual activity is merely a way of satisfying yearnings to be touched and held.” “In a similar study with homosexual men, a common characteristic they shared was the absence of meaningful touching by their fathers early in life.”  Touch from both a mother and father is important, and can actually protect children from looking for love in all the wrong places.  So hug your teenager – even if they make faces about it (just don’t do it in front of their friends).  God designed the family to be a safe, warm place, and part of that warmth of blessing comes from mothers and fathers who consistently touch – and therefore bless – their children.

Pray that all parents with children at home would take time today to give them meaningful touch.

 

WEDNESDAY, April 24

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

“Meaningful touching was certainly a part of Christ’s blessing children.  Mobbed by onlookers and protected by his disciples, Jesus could have easily waved to the children from a distance or just ignored them altogether.  But He did neither.  Jesus would not even settle for the politicians’ ‘chuck under the chin’ routine; He ‘took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”  Jesus was not simply communicating a spiritual lesson to the crowds.  If He was, He could have done so by simply placed one child in the center of the group as He did on another occasion.  Jesus was demonstrating His knowledge of a child’s genuine need.  For children, things become real when they are touched.”  That means your love for them becomes real when they are touched.  Remember, too, that you are God’s child, and so He has placed people in your life that can bless you with touch in His physical absence.  In the same way, you are Christ to the ones you bless with loving and caring touch.

Pray for Lila Miller, who will be washed in the waters of Baptism on Sunday and marked with the cross as one of God’s children forever.

 

THURSDAY, April 26

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Mark 10:40-42

The need of the blessing of meaningful touch goes far beyond our own families.  Jesus demonstrates how powerful and healing touch is to those who are wounded and broken.  A man comes to him with leprosy, a serious skin disease that is extremely infectious and demands separation from family and community.  Lepers were cast out of towns and homes and were forced to live away from others.  If others passed by, they were to yell, “Unclean, unclean!” so that people wouldn’t get to close.  Touching a leper was unthinkable. Read the passage again, and see the first thing Jesus does when the leper comes to Him.  Before Jesus heals him, he touches this man.  Imagine you are this man.  It has been years since anyone has touched you.  People throw rocks at you when you get to close.  But then, Jesus touches you.  “Jesus could have healed him first and then touched him. But recognizing his deepest need, Jesus stretched out His hand even before He spoke words of physical and spiritual healing.”  Jesus didn’t need research studies to know that physical touch brings powerful healing to the body and spirit.  We can offer hope and healing as we reach out to the hurting, lonely, and abandoned with meaningful touch that communicates compassion and love.

Father, place on my heart today someone who is need of the warmth and comfort of meaningful touch, and lead me to bless them by offering that to them.

 

FRIDAY, April 27

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Psalm 31:9-10

Today, hear the story of a young woman blessed through meaningful touch: 

“We know of one person who can understand the pan of not being touched.  Her name was Dorothy, and she spent years of her life longing for meaningful touch.  We learned about Dorothy though a speech teacher at a large secular university.  He is a man in his early sixties who is an outstanding Christ.  For nearly twenty-give years, this man had been a source of encouragement to students inside and outside of class.  Man young men and women have trusted Christ as their Savior through his quiet modeling of godly principles.  However, what changed Dorothy’s life was neither his ability to communicate one his stirring class lectures, but one act of touch.

During the first day of an introductory speech class, this teacher was going around the room, having the students introduce themselves.  Each student was to respond to the questions, ‘What do I like about myself?’ and ‘What don’t I like about myself?’  Nearly hiding at the back of the room was Dorothy. Her long, red hair hung down around her face, almost obscuring it from view.  When it was Dorothy’s turn to introduce herself, there was only silence in the room. Thinking perhaps she had not heard the question, the teacher moved his chair over near hers and gently repeated the question.  Again, there was only silence. 

Finally, with a deep sigh, Dorothy sat up in her chair, pulled back her hair, and in the process revealed her face.  Covering nearly all of one side of her face was a large, irregularly shaped birthmark – nearly as red as her hair. ‘That,’ she said, ‘should show you what I don’t like about myself.’  Moved with compassion, this godly professor leaned over and gave her a hug.  Then he kissed her on her cheek where the birthmark was and said, ‘that’s OK, Honey, God and I still think you’re beautiful.’  Dorothy cried uncontrollably for almost twenty minutes.  Soon other students had gathered around her and were offering their comfort as well.  When she finally could talk, as she dabbed the tears from her eyes she said to the professor, ‘I’ve wanted so much for someone to hug me and say what you said.  Why couldn’t my parents do that?  My mother won’t even touch my face.’  Dorothy, just like the leper in Christ’s time, had a layer of inner pain trapped beneath the outward scars.  This one act of meaningful touching began to heal years of heartache and loneliness for Dorothy and opened the door that drew her to the Savior.

If we want to be people who give the blessing to others, one thing is clear.  Just like Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, and even this professor, we will include meaningful touch in our contacts with loved ones.  This element can lay the ground work for the second key aspect of the blessing – a spoken message.”

Father, You have made it clear that blessing others through physical touch offers physical, spiritual, and emotional healing.  It brings life into our hearts and gives us hope and acceptance.  Fill us with the physical touch we need from others, but even more so, help us to always be sure to bless the people in our lives with meaningful touch so that, most of all, they know about You, their Savior.  Amen.

 

All quotes taken from The Blessing pages 39-53.

 

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