Of all the senses, I think touch is often the least appreciated. When asked what sense they cannot live without people usually respond with “sight, hearing, or taste”. Each sense enables us to experience life in unique ways, but while the other four senses are perceived through one part of our anatomy, only touch engages our whole body.
We have around 5 million sensory nerve receptors in our skin, with 100 of those in our fingertips alone!i Touch is the first sense we encounter while still in our mother’s womb. According to one researcher,
“Humans can feel objects that are just nanometers thick…we are able to feel tiny details invisible to the naked eye.”ii
We learn extraordinary amounts of information through touch that enable us to react to our environment, develop connections, and make appropriate decisions. Touch is a powerful communication tool, an indicator of our mood, and it strengthens or diminishes relationships.Simply said, we cannot exist without our sense of touch. It is a fundamental human need that helps us to thrive.
Much of our speech and written language is filled with metaphors relating to touch. This past week I felt the
- fuzziness of my flannelette sheets as I awoke
- smooth coolness of the hardwood floor beneath my feet
- silky fur of kitty as he brushed against my cheek
- roughness of recycled paper under my palm as I wrote
- softness of a newborn’s hair
- needle-like pain in my heel
The medical world attests to the power of touch in helping to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, alert us to injuries and diseases, and decrease the severity of pain. We often take this for granted. Actor Christopher Reeve, who was left a quadriplegic after an equestrian accident, said,
“To be able to feel the lightest touch really is a gift.”iii
The power of our touch to affect another person is perhaps the most significant of all. In studying the Gospel according to Luke, I am particularly moved by the care the apostle took in portraying the use of touch in Jesus’ ministry.
- Jesus laid His hands on the sick (4:40)
- He stretched out His hand and touched a leper (5:13)
- People tried to touch Jesus because power was coming out of Him for healing (6:19)
- Jesus touched the coffin before raising a dead man to life (7:14)
- He allowed a sinful woman to wet His feet with her tears, wipe them with her hair, kiss them, and anoint them with expensive perfumed oil (7:38-39)
- Jesus felt power go out of Him when a woman with a bleeding disorder touched the fringe of His garment (8:44-47)
- He took a dead girl by the hand and told her to get up (8:54)
Jesus knew the power behind a touch! Not only did He perform miracles of healing and resurrection in this manner, but through touch He showed compassion, restored self-esteem and human dignity, mended broken relationships, improved people’s social standing, taught important life lessons on humility, and rewarded faith.
I am learning much through Jesus’ example that I desire Him to apply practically to my life. I remember a song by Bill Gaither that we used to sing in my teens:
He Touched Me
Shackled by a heavy burden
‘Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
Now I am no longer the same.
Since I met the blessed Saviour
Since He cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise Him
I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.
He touched me; Oh He touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole.
Until next time,