Spiritual Formation


“ Touch has memory. ” - John Keats by Captain Stephanie Pavlakis
Sudowoodo via Getty Images

Night terrors are awful. The child wakes up screaming. Sometimes they’re in bed, sometimes standing in the middle of the room, sometimes wandering the house. Their eyes are open and they can speak, but they make no sense. They cry for their mother or father but can’t recognize that the very person standing right in front of them is the one they’re asking for. We learned the hard way that our normal ways of comforting did no good during these terrors and sometimes even made it worse. The first time our oldest experienced a night terror, I honestly wondered if this was what demon possession looked like. The only option was to wait it out and to try to keep her from hurting herself or waking her sisters. It was awful.

During one particularly bad episode, my husband picked up our daughter and moved her onto our bed. She sat cross-legged; eyes open but blind to us right next to her. She continued crying out and flailing, oblivious to her change in location. As she cried, our dog, a giant Labrador-Irish wolfhound mix, climbed up onto the bed, gingerly moved closer to her and then plopped his head down in her lap. Seeing what was happening, I carefully lifted our daughter’s hand and placed it on his head. Subconsciously, she began to stroke his fur and he nuzzled his head deeper into her. The more she ran her fingers through his fur, the more her crying and screaming eased until finally, she laid down and fell asleep.

There are many instances of people experiencing God’s touch in the Bible. In the Old Testament, Adam is formed from the dirt as a potter molds clay, Jacob has his side touched in a wrestling match and there are endless beautiful metaphors of the might of God’s hand. As I think back on this particular instance of touch though, a touch of peace in the midst of terror, I am reminded of the way that Jesus touched people. Often to bring healing, always to bring comfort, Jesus touched many during His years of ministry. Part of the beauty of being fully human and fully God was that the physical touch of God was accessible to all.

Though we don’t currently have Jesus here with us in the same physical sense, His touch is still available to us. We can experience it in the ways He forms and molds us, the way He protects us with His mighty hand, the way He brings restoration and healing into our lives simply through an encounter with Him. There is a reason we are made to live in community with one another. In the touch of a loved one, a gently leading hand on the shoulder, a hand squeeze of encouragement, a high five in celebration, we are blessed with reminders of the perfect touch of God. The Lord is still touching lives today, doing miracles and bringing healing. Let’s help each other acknowledge and celebrate the touch of God. 

Experiencing God

  • The next time you touch a person, a pet or even a soft pillow, be reminded of the powerful, healing, restorative touch of God.
  • Perhaps touch has not been a good experience for you in the past. Sin has twisted many things that God designed for good and maybe this is one of them for you. Ask God to redeem the sense of touch and to bring healing through His always-safe embrace.

Supporting Scripture

“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 1:41-42
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