The touch of God
Nobody touched me for five years. Nobody. No soul. Not my wife. Not my child. Not my friends. Nobody touched me. They saw me. They talked to me, I felt love in their voice. I saw concern in her eyes. But I did not feel her touch. I demanded what is commonplace for you. A handshake. A hearty hug. A tap on the shoulder to grab my attention. A kiss on the lips. There were no such moments in my world. Nobody bumped into me. What would I have given if someone had jostled me if I had barely made headway in the crowd, if my shoulder had touched another. But it had not happened since five years ago. How could it be otherwise? I was not allowed on the street. Even the rabbis kept away from me. I was not admitted to the synagogue. I was not even welcome in my own house.
One year, during the harvest, I had the impression that I could not grasp the sickle with my other strength. My fingertips seemed numb. Within a short time I could still hold the sickle, but could hardly feel it. At the end of the main operating hours, I no longer felt anything. The hand that held the sickle could just as well have belonged to someone else - I had no feeling at all. I didn't say anything to my wife, but I know she suspected something. How could it have been otherwise? I kept my hand pressed against my body all the time, like a wounded bird. One afternoon I dipped my hands in a pool of water because I wanted to wash my face. The water turned red. My finger was bleeding, even quite violently. I didn't even know I was hurt. How did I cut myself? On a knife? Was my hand on a sharp metal blade? Most likely, but I hadn't felt anything. It's on your clothes too, my wife whispered softly. She was behind me. Before looking at her, I looked at the blood-red stains on my robe. I stood over the pool for a long time staring at my hand. Somehow I knew that my life had changed forever. Should I go to the priest with you? She asked. No, I sighed. I go alone. I turned and saw tears in her eyes. Our three-year-old daughter was standing next to her. I crouched, stared at her face and silently stroked her cheek. What could I have said? I stood there and looked at my wife again. She touched my shoulder and with my healthy hand I touched hers. It would be our last touch.
The priest hadn't touched me. He looked at my hand, which was now wrapped in a rag. He looked into my face, which was now dark with pain. I didn't resent what he said to me. He had only followed his instructions. He covered his mouth, held out his hand, palm forward. You're unclean, he told me. With this single statement, I lost my family, my farm, my future, my friends. My wife came to me at the city gate with a bag of bread and coins. She did not say anything. Some friends had gathered. In her eyes I saw for the first time what I have seen in all eyes since then: fearful pity. When I took a step, they stepped back. Their horror of my illness was greater than their concern for my heart - so they resigned, like everyone else I've seen since. How much I rejected those who saw me. Five years of leprosy had deformed my hands. The fingertips were missing and also parts of an ear and my nose. When I saw them, fathers reached for their children. Mothers covered her face. Children pointed a finger at me and stared at me. The rags on my body couldn't hide my wounds. And the scarf on my face couldn't hide the anger in my eyes either. I didn't even try to hide it. How many nights did I clench my crippled fist against the silent sky? What have I done to deserve this? But the answer never came. Some think I have sinned. Others think my parents have sinned. I only know that I had had enough of everything, from sleeping in the colony, from the bad smell. I had enough of the cursed bell that I had to wear around my neck to warn people of my presence. As if I needed it. One look was enough and the calls began: Impure! Unclean! Unclean!
A few weeks ago I dared to walk along the road to my village. I did not intend to enter the village. I just wanted to take another look at my fields. Look at my house from a distance. And maybe by chance see my wife's face. I did not see her. But I saw some children playing in a meadow. I hid behind a tree and watched as they whizzed and jumped. Their faces were so cheerful and their laughter so contagious that for a moment, for just a moment, I was no longer a leper. I was a farmer. I was a father. I was a man. Infected with happiness, I came out from behind the tree, stretched my back, took a deep breath ... and they saw me. They saw me before I could withdraw. And they screamed, ran away. One, however, lagged behind the others. One stopped and looked in my direction. I can not say for sure, but I think, yes, I really think it was my daughter. I think she was looking for her father.
This look led me to the step I did today. Of course it was reckless. Of course it was risky. But what did I have to lose? He calls himself God's son. Either he will hear my complaints and kill me or answer my request and heal me. These were my thoughts. I came to him as a challenging man. Not faith moved me, but desperate anger. God has brought this misery to my body, and he would either heal it or end my life.
But then I saw him, and when I saw him, I was changed. I can only say that the morning in Judea is sometimes so fresh and the sunrise so splendid that one does not even think about the heat of the past and the pains of the past. When I looked into his face, it was as if I saw a morning in Judea. Before he said anything, I knew he was feeling with me. Somehow I knew that he hated the disease as much as I did - no, even more so than me. My anger turned into trust, my anger in hope.
Hidden behind a rock, I watched him descend the mountain. A huge crowd followed. I waited until he was a few steps away from me, then I stepped out. Master! He stopped and looked in my direction, as did countless others. The crowd was seized with fear. Everyone covered her face with her arm. Children took cover behind their parents. "Impure!" Someone shouted. I can't be angry with them about that. I was the walking death. But I hardly heard her. I hardly saw her. I had seen her panic a thousand times. I had never seen his compassion, however. Everyone resigned except him. He came up to me. I didn't move.
I just said: Lord, you can heal me if you want. If he had healed me in one word, I would have been thrilled. But he wasn't just talking to me. That was not enough for him. He came closer to me. He touched me. "I want!" His words were as loving as his touch. Be healthy! Power flowed through my body like water through a dry field. At that moment I felt warmth where there was numbness. I felt strength in my emaciated body. I stretched my back and raised my head. Now I was facing him, looking into his face, eye to eye. He smiled. He gripped my head with his hands and pulled me so close that I could feel his warm breath and see the tears in his eyes. Make sure that you do not say anything to anyone, but go to the priest, let him confirm the healing and make the sacrifice that Moses prescribed. Those responsible should know that I take the law seriously. I am now on my way to becoming a priest. I'll show myself to him and hug him. I will show myself to my wife and hug her. I will take my daughter in my arms. And I will never forget the one who dared to touch me. In one word he could have made me well. But he didn't just want to make me well. He wanted to honor me, give me value, take me into communion with him. Imagine not being worth touching a human being, but being worthy of God's touch.
Max Lucado (When God changes your life!)