Jesus touched a man with leprosy.
Matthew 8:1-3: “Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. ‘Lord,’ the man said, ‘if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.’ Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’ And instantly the leprosy disappeared.”
This passage has always touched me. No one touched the lepers. They had to stay away from everyone else and constantly call out “Unclean”. But Jesus touched him.
I grew up going to church every Sunday and made the decision to become a Christian when I was seventeen. In college, I became involved with a campus ministry. They offered worship services, large and small group Bible studies, and classes on serious Christian topics—women’s issues, Old Testament prophecy, and more. They offered the opportunity to learn to do ministries—visits to hospitals, nursing homes, prison, others.
I knew I was getting a good Christian education. I developed a strong knowledge of and commitment to the Bible. Most of my social time was spent with other students involved with this ministry. I wrote about the Bible for my classes, and I witnessed to people. I was charged.
I was proud.
It took growing up, venturing more out into the world, a few bumps, temptations, some growing stress, and a lot of mistakes for me to finally realize I was really a sinner. I was unclean.
I’m not going to describe to you all of my sins. It doesn’t matter. I just finally realized I wasn’t God’s gift to Missouri.
I needed God’s grace.
I hit bottom, more than once, before I could come up. I have suffered from depression since I was very young. God has given me great healing in this area, but I experienced times when I was buried in it, as crushing as if I was in quicksand.
I have gone through times when I let Satan convince me that I had never been saved. Other times, he made me sure that even if I had been saved, I had gone too far away to be able to come back to God. Satan told me I had committed sins that God could never forgive.
I now believe that God has spent many hours crying over my lack of understanding about how much He loves me.
I wish I could say that I went through an earth-shaking, immediate, miraculous recovery.
God has shown me more miracles than I can count, but I didn’t let the change happen all at once. He used my family, many other people, His word, a torrent of tears, and multiple years to bring me to a strong belief that He does still love me.
When I open my ears, and listen to God speak to me throughout His word, He shows me so many people in the Bible whom He touched. They were in trouble for many reasons; all of them were sinners. But He found them, and He touched them. He touched even me.
Tenderly, God showed me His love for specific sinners in the Bible, including some who were already His children: David, the adulterer and murderer; Peter,, one of His closest friends, who denied Him; the woman at the well; the thief on the cross; the woman caught in adultery; Paul, persecuting the church.
The Lord gave them the privilege of helping him and his children. He called David a man after his own heart, Acts 13:22. The woman at the well brought many out to meet Jesus, John 4:28-30. He asked Peter to feed his sheep, John 21:15-17. He sent Paul to rescue the gentiles, Acts 9:15.
When I was young, I believed I could draw people to God by my knowledge and fervor. Now that I am older and weathered, I pray that I can be kind to others who share similar sins and struggles as mine.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
I have often felt so unclean by sin that I don’t see how anyone can bear to touch me, especially God. In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul says that he is the chief of all sinners. I have often said that I am his closest deputy.
But the Bible says that God forgives me. He accepts me as his child. He loves me. Psalm 103.
And when I still worry if God can accept me, he reminds me that his love and forgiveness continue.
Lamentations 3:21-23: “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”