Our sense of touch is vital for survival. God equipped our bodies to transmit and receive communication from the world around us through touch. He wired us to experience His creation through the sense of touch. So, how can we know He is real when we can’t feel God?
Today (and for the next few Fridays) in our series on Experiencing God through our 5 Senses, we’re talking about touch.
Science Behind Touch
One of my favorite times of day is when my boys burst through the front door after school (but before homework begins) and we embrace in a great big bear hug. (Only I call them brain boosts now. Apparently that sounds more manly.) If it lasts long enough I can actually feel our breathing slow, our heart rates sync, and bodies relax into each other.
Babies are often placed skin to skin against their mother’s chests immediately after birth. It improves bonding and continued close physical contact has proven to increase a newborn’s ability to thrive both physically and emotionally. Touch is powerful. It can be life-giving.
In fact, it is God’s touch that gives us life.
Touched by God
“The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
When we read the Genesis account of creation we come across a stirring distinction. God spoke the light, and the waters and the ground, the vegetation, the heavens, and the animals into being. But He formed Adam from the dust. And then He breathed life into his nostrils. The Hebrew word used for “formed” here is yatsar (yaw-tsar’). It means squeezing into shape, to mould into a form, to determine, fashion, form, frame, make, purpose. It is the same word used to describe the way a Potter works with clay to create something. This is different from the way God created the rest of the universe. It is intimate, full of feeling, and indicates a tactile experience.
God spoke creation into existence, but He formed humanity by hand.God spoke creation into existence, but He formed humanity by hand. #feelgod #experiencegod #5senses Click To Tweet
This is a reminder that we have a special relationship with Him and He wired our bodies and beings to thrive through touch. Because God gave us the sense of touch, He meant it as a means for us to experience Him.
So what does it really mean to touch something?
*come into contact with physically
*put hands on something
*become involved with
*speak of or tell in passing
*hurt the feeling of someone
*move to feelings of sympathy
*have bearing or relate to
You see, not all the definitions involve physical contact. We can be touched by something we’ve never come into physical contact with. That is the nature of touching God. We feel God by faith.
When You Can’t Feel God
Human touch expresses emotion. Love. Sorrow. Comfort. Compassion. Fear.
But because of our sense of touch, we also experience pain. Without the ability to sense pain, to feel, we could sustain life-threatening injuries without even knowing it. Yet, Satan twists touch into something sinister, causing us to avoid close connection and distracting us from its potential power.
If we aren’t touching other people, we can’t be fully connected with them. Without that connection we struggle to trust. And how then, if we cannot trust the people we can see, can we trust the God we cannot? That slippery slope pleases Satan to no end.
Then, he uses a lack of physical evidence (including sight) to convince us of God’s absence. When we don’t feel God anymore, he uses our feelings against us. Have you heard him whisper these lies to you?
It’s only real if you can touch it
If it feels good to you, it is.
If it hurts, it’s bad.
Jesus preached something very different. He begged us to take up our crosses and deny our flesh. Scripture tells us we are united with Christ through our suffering. Perhaps if we did a little bit more of that, we might begin to feel Him more fully. But maybe we’ve made an idol out of feeling good that keeps us from feeling God.Have you made an idol out of feeling good that keeps us from feeling God? #feelgod #experiencegod #5senses Click To Tweet
Hone Your Spiritual Senses
To feel God we cannot allow science or cynicism to dull our spiritual senses. Too often we seek to numb our senses against the pain and suffering in this world, but what if that sensitivity was God’s way of allowing us to feel how His heart breaks for our trouble. What if numbing ourselves to the pain of this world desensitizes us to the work of the Spirit? We must remain sensitive to the working of the Spirit to feel God. Instead of numbing our feelings, let’s engage our senses to more fully experience God in the midst of our messes.
Connection Through Community
Community can get messy. But it’s necessary.
I grew up in a church where we gripped hands to say The Lord’s Prayer. It was powerful. Though I’ve not attended a church that practices this since, my family and I still touch each other during this and some of the other prayers during the service. We touch during grace before meals and bed time prayers. When I pray privately with a friend, I often hold her hand or lay mine on her shoulder. When I’m hurting, I want to be held. That close connection seems to strengthen our prayers. We are bound together by the Spirit as we pray with the words Jesus taught us.
As we stand with our hearts aligned and our bodies intertwined before the Creator of the universe asking for His will to be done, His presence becomes real. The fellowship of Christ’s followers creates a palpable feeling of His presence.
Though I carry love for my children in my heart even when we’re apart, physical touch is a compelling part of our relationship, of any relationship. His presence is palpable when I’m among His people working according to His purpose. But without touch I quickly become disconnected from the world around me. The very world God created for His glory. The world He meant for me to experience Him though. When I connect with the community of believers God has provided for me, I feel His presence there.
I feel God by faith and fellowship. Both are gifts from Him.
Community is a messy necessity.Community is a messy necessity. #feelgod #experiencegod #5senses Click To Tweet
Our words and our hands have the power to wound and comfort, to divide and connect, build up and tear down. For which purpose will you use your’s today?
Next week, we’ll take a look at how Jesus used His hands here on earth.
For more on the science behind touch:
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope