Every year I stand in front of a rack of shirts and ask myself the same question, “Which one would he like?” I wander around the store and find lavish gifts like dark chocolate and fancy deodorant. I wrap them up and place them under the tree or in my husband’s stocking. Occasionally I get wild and buy him a can of processed potato chips or something decorated in camouflage for hunting season.
This last week I stood in front of that rack of shirts and asked myself not “What would he like?” but “What would show him how much I value him?” Maybe it’s the season of change we’ve been in, or maybe it’s the length of time we’ve been married, but I wanted my husband to know that he was not just loved but also known.
Marriage is that unique place where you get to be known more fully than you are anywhere else. You get to be known emotionally and intellectually. You grow together spiritually and, not least of all, physically.
In fact, physical touch expresses intimacy in a very distinct way. Life is filled with boundaries. Physical and sexual boundaries are created by God for our well-being, but in marriage, we get to express intimacy with no holds barred. We get to be fully known, inside and out. This physical touch grows our relationship with our spouse, yes, but I also believe it grows our relationship with God.
Why? Because we do not have a disconnected God.
Jesus Christ came down to earth as a baby on that night in Bethlehem long ago. He nursed at His mother’s breast. He probably toddled by Joseph’s hand. Our Messiah could heal with His voice, but often He healed with a touch (see Luke 8:54, for example). He invited children to come to Him. He touched them to bless them. He understood their need for touch because He is almighty God, but He also understood their need because He was Himself a man.
Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and went away.
Christ’s example shows us how touch shares the gift of presence in a real and tangible way. When we are present in little ways with our spouse, we share Immanuel with him or her. It’s important that we use words to proclaim the Gospel, but physical touch drives home the message. It transforms those words into a visual and physical Gospel action.
I wrote a note on a tiny piece of paper and stuck it in my husband’s stocking. I didn’t make bold and sweeping promises of exotic bedroom meet-ups, but I suggested something small and realistic—twelve days of Christmas with three extra touches a day. Small things, like holding hands, kissing, an extra hug, a foot rub. We all know that in marriage, small things can lead to bigger things. But even if they don’t, I know he’ll get the message—I know you and I want to be connected to you.
What might your twelve days of Christmas contain for your spouse? Unsure? Just ask . . . and maybe sweeten the deal with a kiss. Getting to know each other more, intimacy, connection—what great gifts we have to share from our Creator and Redeemer, who gives us all we need.
Particularly at Christmas we pass out gifts because God sent each of us the most precious gift possible, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. God looked down at all our need, all our pain, all our struggle, and instead of saving us another way, He sent Jesus among us, to know us, to know life in a way that we know life. Often we picture God as a lofty person in the sky, one who sits on a throne and watches history pass, disconnected. Friends, this is not the God of Scripture. Christmas shares the message of His investment. God came to us. God touched us.