catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 22 :: 2011.12.09 — 2011.12.22


God’s vanishing touch

Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

Psalm 51:11

R.J. had a physical and mental condition resulting in loss of feeling. He was a college mate who struggled to make the grade because of his condition. I distinctly remember the day he came to class with no shoes. It was midwinter and extremely cold outside, but he couldn’t feel it. Loss of touch created many dangerous situations for him.

I’ve known others who, because of diabetes or other medical conditions, have limited or no sense of feeling. Through our sense of touch, we experience sensations that send messages to our brains and cause us to react. When I touch something hot, my brain shouts, “Move your hand, stupid!” Or when I step on something sharp, I hear, “Pick up your foot!” Without these sensations and messages, I might severely burn my hand or cut my foot.

The nature of this reaction is not unlike another kind of touch.  David asked not to be removed from God’s presence to have God’s Spirit taken from him. He, and all of us, have the capacity to feel God’s vanishing touch. While I can’t actually touch God inside me, I can feel his presence. Losing God’s touch was a disturbing possibility for David. To be absent from God was more than he wanted to imagine.

I enjoy touch: caressing my wife’s hair; feeling a friend’s arms in an “I haven’t seen you in so long” embrace; feeling the soft coat on our freshly showered pooch; rubbing my fingers across the smooth surface of a stone plucked from a cold mountain stream; sifting the dirt of a freshly plowed field.  Seeing is certainly a plus, but experiencing these things without the sense of touch would immensely decrease my enjoyment.

Nor can I imagine the possibility of God’s vanishing touch: losing the feeling of his presence I so relish when I need a word of guidance; not feeling his comfort when life takes a nosedive; losing the touch of his drying my tears after receiving tragic news. In these things, I feel the constant assurance I’m his child and can never be separated from his love.

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