by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.“ — Mother Teresa

August, 2005
Our dog, Teri, a two-and-a-half-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix, is from “an intelligent breed.” That’s what the young woman from the shelter told us when we adopted the dog. That’s what everyone we’ve talked to who knows anything about the breed has said. Personally, I don’t know how intelligent she is but she definitely knows what certain sounds signify. She knows what it means when someone opens a bag of chips, she knows what it means when the microwave oven beeps, and she knows what it means when someone opens the refrigerator. It means food! She’s very good at recognizing what my wife, Charlotte, refers to as “food noises.” And if she’s in hearing distance, she comes running.

Jesus was extremely perceptive. When the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched the hem of his robe and was healed, he knew it. In Matthew’s version (Matt. 9:20-22), he turns around, looks at her, and says, “‘Take heart, daughter, . . . your faith has healed you.’” (Matt. 9:22b NIV). In Mark and Luke’s accounts (Mark 5:24-34; Luke 8:43-48), when she touches his robe, he asks, “‘Who touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5:30b NIV). His disciples reply, “‘You see the people crowding against you, . . . and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?”’” (Mark 5:31 NIV). There were many people in the crowd, and any number of them probably bumped against Jesus but he knew there was one person who had a particular affliction, a specific need. He knew one person had been healed. And so did she. He recognized her need and he didn’t judge or condemn her. He simply responded to her need.

Jesus told his disciples about the need to be perceptive of the work that he had prepared for them. “‘Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. . . . I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.’” (John 4:35, 38 NIV). We are Jesus’ disciples too, and we have work set before us. We need to be aware of the opportunities we are given to serve and to witness. The prophets of old, like Moses, Samuel, and Elijah, heard the voice of God; it might be reasonable to say they heard “God noises.” If we listen, we can hear “God noises” too, and we will know how to do our part. We might sow seeds of repentance like John the Baptist or we might reap a harvest of souls like Peter, James, and John.

Every person who comes to our church is reaching out for something; each one has a need. He or she might need to hear uplifting music, like what our organist, Amy, plays; he or she might need to hear need to hear inspiring preaching, like what our pastor, Jeff, delivers. Or he or she might need a prayer, a kind word, or simple human contact. Those are the things you and I can do and provide. It doesn’t take musical talent or speaking ability to pray for someone or to say “Hello,” or “We’re glad you’re here, please come again.” It only takes a willingness to touch someone’s life.

Everyone we come in contact with has needs of some kind. If we are sensitive to their needs, we can do a better job of meeting them. If we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will know how God wants us to respond. Any day, you might encounter someone who needs a touch of healing, a touch of comfort, a touch of grace. Someone who needs to touch and to be touched. Someone who needs your touch. Someone who needs to hear the words, “Take heart . . .”

“Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit Divine!”
(“Open My Eyes, That I May See” Clara H. Scott, 1895)

Copyright © 2005 by David Phelps