My mom says I’ve never liked being touched. And she’s right. I don’t appreciate people touching any part of me, well, that is.. the physical me anyway.
My body is (now) sacred. I prefer handshakes over hugs; friendly smiles over kisses. I think, the only two exceptions I really ever make are either when I’m with kids or willing to get down.
Right now I am neither, and so I keep people at arm’s length, physically, that is. I like emotional to physical closeness.
And paradoxically, once I feel emotionally close, safe, secure with you, I touch you.
No, I don’t let you touch me, but I express my love by allowing myself open up physically; hug you every now and again, stroke your arm, pinch your cheek. This can be confusing to some. So you don’t like being touched, but when you like someone you touch? Well, yes. It is that simple.
On Sunday, a friend observed me holding on to and stroking another man’s arm and thought to put me in check by whispering, “Ah ah, stop touching him now.” into my ear, placing his hand on my shoulder. Taking a moment to consider, I asked the object of my stroking, “Do you mind me touching you?”. He smiled, “Mind? No, of course not.”
It made me think. The people we touch. Physically, emotionally, mentally.. over seasons, times, a lifetime, generations.
A couple of days ago, during one of my bible-studies, we once again discussed the issue of purpose, calling; the question of “What on earth am I here for?!” in essence, my friend shared that she had been battling with this issue for a couple of years now.
Not having been able to clearly identify or define what she wanted to do, where she wanted to be, and when she would eventually figure it out, she was seriously troubled.
I went back to my favourite books in the Holy Scriptures.. books like Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah (Note: I’m inviting you to study these too!).
I love the Bible for a number of reasons, one of them being the fact that it just makes too much sense on so many levels.
Let’s look at the issue of city walls, for instance.
From very early history to modern times, walls have been a near necessity for every city. As a matter of fact, the Assyrians deployed large labour forces to build new palaces, temples and defensive walls. The purpose? Well, fortification. Protection from enemy forces, potential aggressors. Apart from very few who could afford to rely on their military for defence instead, most ancient cities simply could not stand for long without such protective walls.
Nehemiah, when he found out that the walls of Jerusalem were still laying waste, broke down crying. He knew what it meant. It wasn’t just the nakedness of the city, but also that of its people. Shame.
And although he wasn’t momentarily personally affected by it, as he was relatively comfortable in the house of the king, serving him wine and having his ear, at the news of the state of his home, even he could not stand. Usually a positive and jolly person, the king too noticed the sorrow of Nehemiah’s heart.
so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
The king said to me, “What is it you want?” And I said unto the king, “If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.” (Nehemiah 2)
There was something much more important to him than comfort and influence. And although Nehemiah – being a slave – owned nothing, his service in the king’s domain, his integrity and faithfulness, had brought and catapulted him into his own ministry, fulfilling and sponsoring his calling. He understood that all he needed was an open door, and his loyalty to another had secured him the necessary access. Provision for the vision.
Don’t despise your commitment to another man’s work or belittle your service to another. The greatest leaders have always been the most dedicated servants.
But, what is it that makes you cry? That makes you weep at the sight or thought of it? What is it you wish you could dedicate your life to if money wasn’t an issue and failure not a possibility? What wall is it you wish to rebuild? What keeps you up at night, keeps you going through the thickness and dryness of the seasons? What dream of yours goes so beyond yourself, is so much bigger than you, seems naturally impossible? What is it that annoys and irritates you? Cracks in systems that no one else sees but you, no one else is as bothered by asyou? All these are clear indicators..
But understand that timing is key! The circumstances of today, as much as of the day your mother conceived you.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Of recent I’ve been studying the year 1986 in-depth, simply because I have come to understand that not just the date of my birth, place of birth and family background matter; but that the condition of my nation had very much to do with the formation of my being. Just as with Samuel, God had to shut his mother’s womb.. until the appointed time. And then, looking around the corruption of the land and His prophets, calculating future events, policies, SAPs, coups and relationships well in advance, he caused Hannah first not to, then to conceive. In time giving birth to the prophet who would be trained and educated by a prophet who had compromised God’s word but could perfectly instruct therein, and who would later crown the future king.
Samuel could not have been born at any other time. Neither could you!
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
This week, I want to encourage you to spend some time in His presence, in prayer, in meditation; most especially those who are still unclear as to who they are and why they are here.
Pastor O once said something so profound, it has stuck with me since..
So, there was one who invented the wheel, another light. Another the cup, the plate, the spoon. The TV, computer, elevator, escalator. They came into the world, lived, and left valuable inventions behind. Things that you and I still enjoy today. And yet, most of us think it acceptable to come into the, live, enjoy others work and inventions, eat, drink, sleep, and die. What’s your own contribution? Is it fair that some would give their lives so that you and I would live easier lives and nothing more? Wouldn’t you think it would make sense to at least leave something of small value behind? Something that out-lives us? Let’s stop being parasites..
Truth is, no one was ever created to simply take. All functioning organisms are based on giving and receiving. Sometimes you give out of plenty: the overflow of love and care received; while at other times you give out of pain: making sure another suffers less, defending or simply protecting the weak. There are so many broken walls in people’s lives, families, systems, societies. Which one will you touch, fix, break down and rebuild? Whatever you choose to do and regardless of where you choose to do it, make sure it’s a positive and effective touch, and make sure that touch outlives you.