Wednesday, June 29, 2016

No Longer the Same

It was a routine day at the "Big House."  In one of the units, the huge central area was surrounded by rows and rows of cells.  The tiny cell units provided the housing for the inmates, but on schedule, the cell doors would open and they had access to the central area. During this time they could play cards or dominoes with others. Some counted this as special time because they could read or watch TV.

Someone entering this area for the first time would be moved by the massiveness of the structure. The space was open and those who called this place home were allowed to experience the "freedom" of moving around in their assigned unit. 

On this day, some noise was coming from three stories up......the third level which contained the cells for their housing, but today the noise was like a panic.  Something was happening and it drew attention from the guards and prison staff, as much as from all those who were housed in that area. One inmate had climbed over the railing of the third floor and was threatening to jump.  If he were to jump, he would probably end his life as he would be landing on the concrete floor 30 feet below.

The guards and other prison workers were converging on the area. Medical personnel and higher ranking prison officials were on the way.  As they arrived they noticed the guards were backing away from the man who was hanging on from the third floor railing. Perhaps if they gave him some space he would come back over the rails to safety.  He did not.  To add to this tense situation, other prisoners began to chant, "Jump, jump, JUMP!"

Arriving with the Medical Team was the staff chaplain, who walked directly to the distressed man, reached out his hand and touched his shoulder, and simply said, "Lets talk."  Witnesses to this event were amazed at how calm the man became.  A stressful situation was suddenly drained with just one touch.  This inmate will be undergoing physical and mental evaluation because of the incident, but for a brief moment, someone cared......someone showed concern......someone touched him.

As I heard about this incident today I began to think of the words to my favorite Gaither song, "He Touched Me."  Remember the words?  "Shackled by a heavy burden, 'Neath a load of guilt and shame. Then the hand of Jesus touched me, And now I am no longer the same."

The significance of a touch is underrated. All of us need the touch sometimes.  It let's us know we are loved and appreciated. It notifies us someone really cares. Handshakes and hugs are always good medicine.

Has Jesus touched you?  We are blessed to know we are not the same, all because our Savior has touched us in a special way. His presence is known to us. He cares. He loves.

It is because of Jesus and all he has done for me, I can reach with a gentle touch and be a blessing to someone else.

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