Touch

OIP-49

To touch or not to touch, that is the question.

Jesus was constantly around poverty and disease. He rubbed shoulders with the crowd. He touched lepers to heal them. He spit on the ground, made mud with his spit, rubbed it in a blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash his face, and when he did, he could see. One woman touched the hem of His garment and was immediately healed from a chronic hemorrhage. When Jesus asked who had touched Him, the disciples were indignant at the question in that He was being pressed by the crowd on all sides.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. What do we do? The word from the experts is quarantine yourself. Stay inside. Avoid crowds. Wash your hands often. Stay six feet away from any other human beings. Now, my isolated self would love this. Now I have an excuse. Fill my spare room with toilet paper, lock my doors and, “See you in June!” 

Admittedly there’s a balance here somewhere, I just don’t know where it is.

I’m scheduled to be in Phoenix on Friday for my annual spring training weekend treat. It’s a regular Christmas gift from my wife. I have tickets to three games and a room in a hotel for three nights all arranged. It’s not just the games — it’s the breakfast at Steaks ’n’ Cakes in Blythe, and three breakfasts at one of nine First Watch locations in Phoenix — (best breakfast in the world, and breakfast is obviously my favorite meal). There’s writing time, quiet time, a road trip, meeting other diehard fans, being up close and personal to the games, plus a potential meeting with a major supporter in Tucson. But should I go? Shall I expose myself in the crowded stands and bring home a risk to my family? Really, this isn’t some great humanitarian cause I’m risking; this is just something I love. And who’s to say I might not get there and find the games closed to fans by then?

Like I said, there’s a balance here; there may even be a line to draw but I just don’t know where it is.

I kind of like what Bob from Seattle wrote in response to yesterday’s Catch, “This is an opportune time to be the calm, reassuring voice of Christ – the voice of reason – but how does one ‘reason together’ with another who is filled with media-generated angst and blinded by opportunistic terror … and would have no qualms stealing your toilet paper? As for me, unless rejected by the other person, I intend to continue to shake my well-washed hands with theirs rather than practice ‘social-distancing.’ Heck, I may even hug someone today…”

I like that sentiment; I really do. But then again, who’s being more selfish, the guy who would steal my toilet paper, or me, potentially bringing home a virus to my family and neighborhood because I wanted to go to the games? Virus be damned; it’s Phoenix or bust.

Now that I look at it, it may be that the Phoenix-or-bust guy is more selfish in that he is putting those around him at risk. The guy at home may be selfish too, but he also may want to be sure he doesn’t catch it and pass it on to others. I do wish he would think about sharing some of his toilet paper supply with me, however, because there’s none left in the store.

So I started this off thinking I had the answer, but I’m not so sure now. It’s more complicated than I thought. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Reply below to join the public discussion, or reply directly to this email if you’d like to send me a private response.

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13 Responses to Touch

  1. Steve Walsh says:

    Go… to the doctor then, if you’re not infected with Covid19, go to Arizona. When they’re in the World Series in October, you’ll know that it all started with your decision to throw caution to the wind and risk your life to see them start the season. God tells His believers to be in the world, but not of it. I’ll pray for you as you travel. And will pray for you if you get sick. Either way, you’ll be prayed for and God will be with you.

  2. Linn says:

    Yes, God is with us. He also gave us brains and common sense. I think we need to use both without being hysterical. Example: I had a doctor’s appointment today. It’s a three-month appointment to check on a heath condition that can’t be done out of office. So, I went, used the hand sanitizer provided by the clinic liberally, and I greeted but did not touch people. I am trusting that I honored God with my attitude and actions. If I were to become ill with CVID it might not have anything to do with the doctor’s appointment, but God would know and He would still love and care for me.

    I spent a number of years in a country in a state of semi-civil war where every decision to go out was potentially dangerous (like car bomb, kidnapping dangerous). Sometimes going to the grocery store was a big decision. I would pray, check the news, both official and the neighbors, and depending on what seemed okay, would venture forth. Bad things did happen a few times, but God was in those incidents as much as He was in the trips to the store that also became lunch out with a national friend because the circumstances were safe.

    God is always with us. He will always keep us, be it in this life or the next. We do the best we know how to respond to Him through reading His Word, prayer, and loving our neighbor. He will take care of the rest.

  3. wxso9110 says:

    I think we need to think about others first, despite what “I” may want to do. My selfish desires may cause harm to others.

    1) – I do not want to get it from others
    2) – I do not want to give it to others

    For those two things to occur, we need to self isolate. Fortunately, my wife and I can do that, not everyone is so fortunate. We still go out but we are trying to stay away from crowds. The more we act selfishly, the further it will spread.

  4. John A Fagliano says:

    Wow! That is a tough call especially since this isn’t something important but something you love. You might want to consider canceling in the hopes that later in the baseball season you could see games when hopefully this epidemic is more controlled

    In case you hadn’t seen this update the sports world is taking precautions. It doesn’t say much about MLB though.
    https://www.cbssports.com/general/news/coronavirus-live-updates-ncaa-tournament-games-will-be-played-without-fans-warriors-to-play-in-empty-arena/live/

  5. Sandy Campbell says:

    I don’t think you’re being selfish in going!! Why live in fear of what might happen. I read today where the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus to be pandemic but when you look at the number of deaths from it in the U.S., 10, compared to the 16,000 who have died in the U.S. from the flu since the beginning of the year it makes me wonder what’s going on!! Look at what this has done to the economy and how people are hoarding what they think will be in short supply. I went to get toilet paper today and the shelves are emptying rapidly. There are 6 of us so to make sure we don’t run out I bought 5 packages of 9 rolls of the mega kind!! We need to start asking God what to do and stop living in fear and listening to the media!! Go to your spring training and have a great time!!!

  6. Mark D Seguin says:

    Pastor John I’m still LOL over your comment to Bob regarding the extra toilet paper.. That just hit my funny bone, so thank-you 4 it!

    Regarding traveling or not to see your Baseball team maybe call them to insure they’ll still letting visitor’s in. Other than that wishing you & gorgeous Marti journey mercies if you do go…

    God’s Speed!

  7. Except for personal times of prayer I don’t recall Jesus or any of the writers in either of the Testaments directing us to sequester ourselves or to hunker down at home and play it safe until the danger or threat eventually fades away.
    Obviously wisdom needs to be exercised and certain precautions taken but to abruptly stop living life or engaging physically with whomever is still out there in the marketplace over the next three months is counter to our proclaimed faith that God will protect, provide, heal and deliver.
    After all, don’t we proclaim allegiance with a Great Physician, a Great Healer?

    Odds are many of us may already be infected and, unless our immune systems are weak or compromised, nothing will come of this outbreak.
    As believers especially, there is no need to fear, no need to panic.
    We have survived pandemics before, we will get through this one.

    L’chaim! To Life!!
    Shalom…

  8. My personal take as to whether you should go to Phoenix or not is this:
    Go.

    If you hear that fans won’t be permitted to attend the games, go anyway.
    Explore Phoenix more than you ever have before.
    If agreeable with her, take Marti with you and enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors of Phoenix together without the distraction of baseball.
    Have a date with each other – it’s already paid for, right?
    And think about the small merchants in town who are feeling the negative impact of fans and citizens staying home because of fear.
    They would really appreciate your business more so at a time such as this and your support may be one of the many small assurances they need from a fearless believer in Christ.

    I’m not convinced that “selfishness” on anyone’s part is even a factor.
    Personal comfort nobly disguised as “caution” may be the real issue and an easy way out of commitments for many.
    So, be not selfish.
    Be not afraid.
    Go…

    • jwfisch says:

      I truly agree with a lot of what you have been saying, Bob. My biggest question, however, is putting myself in a position to catch the virus and pass it on without even knowing it. I just heard today it’s a 24-day gestation period. That’s the one that’s hard to get around.

      • The decision is obviously yours and you’re wise to consider all ramifications.

        Have you had yourself tested to see if you may already have the virus?
        Much to their surprise, many ordinary and prominent folks (like Tom Hanks and several government leaders) are discovering they’re already infected. So, they’re self-quarantining to protect others which is commendable but may be a bit too late.
        And, as each day unfolds we’re finding out that this “bug” has been running around for a lot longer than we either realized or are being told – which is why dozens of elderly people died in the Seattle area so suddenly after it made headlines.

        We’re both of that age – that stage in life nowadays defined as “at-risk” – where something somewhere will kill us relatively soon.

        Personally, I would think that this is an excellent time to go on a trip since most everyone is on hyper-alert and are “socially-distancing” themselves from others (6-foot elbow bumps?!); and, most businesses are sanitizing and re-sanitizing their respective venues with extra vigilance.
        The way things are during this short window of opportunity, I’m fairly confident that you won’t be any less safe in Phoenix than in Laguna Beach and that the chances of contracting the virus now are much less than when we first heard about it.
        I believe you and your loved ones are safe.

        You have a very limited number of trips to Arizona Spring Training left in your future whereas there will always be some disease, virus, or sickness running rampant around on this earth that may or may not do us in.
        So, have yourself tested and if you’re good to go, then by all means: go.
        Otherwise, you may not get to experience or share with others these simple gifts that bring you joy in life after this year.
        Who knows what will be restricted next Winter and Spring?

        I’m not trying to be callous or encourage recklessness but I would “run against the prevailing winds” and shout to all those cowering under their mountains of toilet paper:
        Carpe Diem! Seize this day that the Lord has made!
        Rejoice and be glad in it!

        “This I declare about the LORD:
        He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
        He is my God, and I trust Him.
        For He will rescue you from every trap
        and protect you from deadly disease….
        …no evil will conquer you;
        no plague will come near your home…”
        ~ Psalm 91

        Shalom, Peace…

  9. Bob Hofferber says:

    Guess MLB made the decision for you (: They ruined my plans to catch an early season Mariners game as well. Hopefully things don’t get as bad as some are predicting…

  10. jwfisch says:

    Dear Bob, after all this they made the decision for me. I’ve appreciated your thoughts, however, and I love your spirit. This is going to be an interesting testing time for all of us I think.

    • Hi John,

      I agree with your assessment that this is a time of testing for everyone, believer and unbeliever alike.
      And, I’m pleased that the decision by MLB helped solve your conundrum.

      This morning I read these words that, to me, resonate with our current global situation. With the Book of Esther as the backdrop, Yael Eckstein writes:
      “While every person experiences moments of self-doubt in his or her lifetime, we must recognize that whatever challenges God places in front of us are ones that we can overcome. God has a plan, and He gives us our roles. Our job is to play our part as best as we can and leave the rest to Him.

      Today, accept your God-given role with confidence and pride. He knows you, and He knows that you can do it.”

      Shalom, my friends…

      🙂

      https://www.ifcj.org/learn/holy-land-moments/daily-devotionals/playing-our-part-in-gods-plan/

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