Dr. Donald J. Ralston

Meaningful Touch

(Num. 27:23; Deut. 34:9)

I. Illustration

A. A little four year old girl heard a clap of thunder

1. She jumped out of her bet, burst into her parents room landing in the middle of the bed

2. "Sweetheart, don't worry," said her day, "the Lord will protect you"

3. Snuggling real close to her father she said, "I know that daddy, but right now I need someone with skin on."

B. This little girl knew that the Lord would protect her, but she was also aware that He had given her an earthly father that she could touch and someone who could touch and comfort her

1. She wanted the blessing of meaningful touch

C. This little girt was fortunate her dad held her and comforted her - not all children are that fortunate

1. Even in caring homes, most fathers will stop touching their children once they reach grade school years

2. When we stop touching our children an important part of the blessing stops as well

3. We all agree that a four year old is okay to touch

4. But what about a fourteen year old? He or she has the need to be touched the same as the four year old

5. It may take a little different course in a teenager

6. Believe it or not, a 35 year old needs meaningful touch

I. In Scripture, Touch was very important

A. When Isaac blessed Jacob, an embrace and a kiss were involved (Gen. 27:26)

1. The Hebrew word for "come close" was used to picture the overlapping scales on a crocodile - you can't get any closer than that

B. For fathers in America, there is a strong correlation between the age of his son and whether a father will touch him

1. Yet Jacob was 40 years old when his father kissed him

2. Studies have shown that mothers touch their children in more nurturing ways and fathers in more playful ways

3. Robert Salt, in his book, "Affectionate Touch between Fathers and Pre-Adolescent Sons" says, "When children were interviewed, they perceived their fathers touch as more nurturing"

4. Isaac was a model that parents, husbands and wives need to follow in giving the blessing

II. A grandfather can give this blessing to the family

A. Genesis 48:9,10 and 14

1. Israel was God's name change for Jacob

2. He not only kissed them, he held them close and embraced them. He also laid his hands on each grandson's head

B. There is a physical blessing in a touch

1. One third of our touch receptors are centered in our hands - our hands are so sensitive that some blind people are taught to read without braille

2. They read by read by seeing through their fingertips. At Princeton Cutaneous Communications Lab, they are experimenting with the blind reading by translating words into vibrations on their fingertips. Whether it will be a success, we will wait to see

3. Dr. Dolores Krieger, Professor of Nursing at New York University made a number of studies on effects of the laying on of hands

4. She found that the toucher and the one being touched received a physiological benefit. You say how is that possible?

5. Inside our bodies is hemoglobin Which carries oxygen to our tissues

6. Dr. Krieger found that the hemoglobin levels in both people's bloodstream goes up during the laying on of hands

7. The increase in oxygen energizes a person and can aid in the regenerative process if they are ill

C. So healthy is meaningful touch we ought to heed the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "AI never like the giving of the hand unless the entire body accompanies it."

1. UCLA discovered during research that just to maintain emotional and physical health, men and women need eight to ten meaningful touches each day

2. These researchers defined meaningful touch as a gentle touch, stroke, kiss or hug given by special people in our lives. So the bumper sticker is right in asking, "have you hugged your kid today?"

D. Researchers at the University of Miami Medical School began to message babies 45 minutes per day. Those that were massaged gained 47% more weight than those that did not get this meaningful touch

1. The same researchers found that bone growth of children deprived of touch was half that of the children who were regularly touched

2. Even Alzheimer patients decreased in their strange movements after being meaningfully touched

III. Touch effects every relationship

A. Librarians were asked to alternately touch and not touch students as they returned books

1. The experimenters then interviewed the students

2. Do you know what they found?

3. Those who were touched reported more positive feelings about the library than those who were not touched

4. They also reported good feelings toward the librarians

B. Shoppers in a Kansas City, Missouri supermarket were asked to sample a new brand of pizza

1. Those who were touched for only a fraction of a second during the sales pitch were more likely to buy the new product

2. Flight attendants who accidentally touched people on flights saw similar results

3. Those who were touched rated the attendant as more qualified and the plane trip as safer than those who were not touched

C. Touching a child on the shoulder or ruffling someone hair can change how you are viewed by people

1. A free lance reporter for the New York Times interviewed Marilyn Monroe

2. She was aware of Marilyn=s past and that she had been shuffled in and out of foster homes

3. Marilyn was asked if she had ever felt loved by any of her foster parents, once, she said, when I was about eight

4. The foster mother was putting on makeup and I was watching

5. She reached over in a smiling way and patted my checks with her rouge puff. For that moment I felt loved by her

6. Marilyn had tears in her eyes as she told that story. Why?

7. For a little girl starved for affection that was like pouring buckets of love on a parched life

D. Parents you can starve your child of the genuine warmth and acceptance that only you can give

1. In a study of homosexual men, a common characteristic they shared was the absence of meaningful touching by their fathers in early life. Dr. Marc Hollender, Psychiatrist in "The Archives of General Psychiatry" Volume 22, page 445.

IV. The ultimate model of meaningful touch

A. Notice Mark 10:13, 14 and 16

1. Jesus could easily have waved to the children or smiled kindly at them

2. Jesus didn't do that - He took them up in His arms, He laid His hands upon them

3. Jesus knew the real need of a child is love and acceptance

B. A professor who modeled his Lord

1. On the first day of his speech class, the professor asked them this question - what do I like about myself - what don't I like about myself

2. When Dorothy was to respond there was only silence - the professor thought she hadn't heard so, he repeated the question. Her long hair was hanging over her face so he couldn't see her

3. Finally, with a deep sigh, Dorothy sat up in her chair, pulled back her hair and in the process revealed her face. Covering nearly all of one side of her face was a large, irregularly shaped birthmark - nearly as read as her hair. "That" she said, "should show you what I don't like about myself."

4. Moved with compassion, this Godly professor did something he=d never done before in a classroom. Prompted by God=s Spirit, he leaned over and gave her a hug. Then he kissed her on the cheek where the birthmark was and said, "That's OK, honey, God and I still think you=re beautiful."

5. Dorothy cried uncontrollably for almost twenty minutes. Soon other students had gathered around her and were offering their comfort as well. When she finally could talk, dabbing the tears from her eyes, she said to the professor, "I've wanted so much for someone to hug me and say what you said. Why couldn't my parents do that? My other won't even touch my face."

C. Jesus had come into this world to touch and heal the hurting and wounded soul.