Friday, 6 June 2014


Many people now live in a world where everyone looks at them but no-one sees them. As strange as this is, it is also a world where many people have physical contact with them but no-one touches them. Added to these shameful blights, is that in this world many people say things to them but no-one talks to them! This is not how our Maker designed for us to interact. And a result of this, although we are designed to be nourished, satisfied and strengthened with someone truly seeing us, carefully touching us and appropriately speaking to us, we now live in a world of people who are weakened because they do not experience this triune source of strength.
And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, "O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength.
Daniel 10:16
People need someone to look at them. Jesus once asked His disgusted host, Simon the Pharisee, "Simon, do you see this woman?" (Luke 7:44) Of course Simon saw the woman! That's why he was so disgusted! But Jesus knew that there is a world of difference between looking at someone and looking at someone. How many people really see you. Everybody needs at least one person to see them. When the aged Daniel was at a low and confusing point in his life, someone saw him - this heavenly visitor looked not just at him but into him. Who sees (in) you? God has made women beautiful to look at. It is natural and right that a woman spends time accentuating her God-given beauty in how she grooms, clothes, and makes herself up. But God has made each woman extraordinarily beautiful intentionally for just 1, 2, or a few related men (her father, her husband, her brothers for example). It appears that when a women does not receive these rightfully deserved affirmations of her beauty, she goes to great lengths to show off her beauty and looks for affirmations from other sources. Of course this makes the role of a dad toward his daughter all the more critical.

This look came at a time in Daniel's life when he was particularly lonely, unaffirmed, and uncertain. It became a part of the cause of the strengthening that Daniel experienced.
Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me.
Daniel 10:18
Daniel was strengthened not just with a look but with a touch as well. We are designed by our Maker to give and receive strength through touch. There are far too many people today who have been weakened beyond what's acceptable simply because they have not been appropriately or sufficiently touched. A handshake, a hug, a backslap, a hand on a shoulder, a kiss, have far more power than most of us realise. When women do not receive touches they may be tempted to invite inappropriate touches. (Dads, give your daughter a hug before day's end.)
How can my lord's servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me."
Daniel 10:17
A look, a touch, a word. Daniel's strengthening was made complete with a word.
And he said, "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage." And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me."
Daniel 10:19
"He spoke to me, I was strenghtened" says Daniel. I used to say that there are no words that can help at this time when attempting to comfort the bereaved. I found myself saying this to myself (just as I had previously said it to hundreds of others) at the time we were shocked to be told that my father-in-law had suddenly died. Just as I was saying it to myself, I felt the gentle loving rebuke of the Holy Spirit reminding me that the ultimate comfort and source of strength can only come from words and that the greatest expression of this is the Bible. Since that time, I have never repeated the myth that words alone cannot heal, comfort, or strengthen.
God has given us eyes not just to see with but to understand with. "I see" is a way of saying, "I understand." But our eyes are not merely to see and understand things, they are primarily to see and understand those God places in our world.Helen Keller (who was born deaf and blind but was taught to read and write and communicate with others through touch) said that: There are none so blind as those who will not seeHelen Keller was an uncontrollable wild child - until someone looked at her. This someone was Annie Sullivan. She connected with Helen with a look, a touch and then a word. And the previously unteachable, uncontrollable, incommunicable young girl was set free and strengthened to be the curious, co-operative, talkative, thoughtful woman that she was destined to be. Because someone looked at her, touched her, and strengthened her with words, she-
... received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments, including the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and election to the Women's Hall of Fame in 1965. She also received honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Additionally, she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.*
Our Maker has designed how we are strengthened. "Man does not live by bread alone" Jesus reminded us, "but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." A weakened person who craves the strength that can only come from a look, a touch, and a word, may think that their hunger for strength is satisfied by food. (Anyone noticed what's happened to obsesity rates in areas where the Maker's methods are ignored? See Phil. 3:19.)  Our Maker has meant for us to be in worshiping communities where we are strengthened by looks of real love from others, the tender touches of those who see us, and by words of life shared with us by those see and hold us. This is the air we breathe within the protective, healing, strengthening bounds of our local church. The world craves church. They crave what their Maker has designed for them: someone to truly see them, someone to tenderly touch them appropriately, and someone to speak deeply and sweetly into their soul. Without this triune source of strength feeding a person's soul, that person is left to look for strength in a bottle, a pill, a bed, a meal, or a needle. This futile hunt was powerfully captured in the movie Good Will Hunting.

Will Hunting was not loved by his father. Instead of looks of love, touches of tenderness and words of wisdom, Will's father looked at him with disgust, scorn and neglect. Instead of touches to comfort, reassure and heal, Will's father beat him spanners, electrical cords, chains and burned him repeatedly with lit cigarettes. Instead of words of life, encouragement, and wisdom, his father verbally abused him. Will grew up weak. We recognise his weakness as obvious in the way he scorned others, spoke to people with malice, and continually got into fights and treated girls as objects of lust. The next time you see a prickly person who's hard to like, consider that they might be a person craving the Maker's strength that comes from the Maker's agents who share a look, a touch, and word on His behalf. Will Hunting was dramtically strengthened when someone used the Maker's method. 

A community psychologist, Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) is the first person in Will's life to really look at him. It is Sean, who understands that Will has never been touched. (Many young men crave the fatherly touch of a man and in their weakened state of identity confusion are often taken advantage of by an older male predator - which only adds to their confusion.) Sean touches Will. And it is Sean Maguire who speaks to Will. Although many have spoken to Will Hunting throughout his twenty years, no-one has ever said anuthing to him. Sean Maguire corners Will in his office. He touches him tenderly on the shoulder. He says to him, "It's not your fault." Will doesn't hear him (although he hears Sean's words). "I know" he responds. "No. It's not your fault" says Maguire now with both hands on Will's shoulders. Will shruggs this off. Maguire moves closer, looks Will in the eye, and repeats his word to him. "Stop messing with me", says the tearing Will. Maguire moves closer to Will and Will breaks down. The two embrace and finally the strength that can only come from a look, a touch and a word, floods into Will's dry, empty, shrivalled soul. He has just experienced what the Maker's agents feast on each week in their church community.

I knowIt's not your fault Will.The moment of healing.

This is why meeting together each Sunday for church is more beneficial and strengthening than most of us realise. Hopefully I've shown you by now that those incidental parts of our Sunday congregational and Wednesday small group meetings are notincidental at all and that your presence is vital both for strengthening others and for being strengthened. The man looked at Daniel, touched Daniel, and spoke a word to Daniel, and he was strengthened. Couldn't you use some strengthening as well?

Ps. Andrew

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