Jumper Cables

 Proverbs 11:25: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

   In the early 1960s I ran a DX Sunray service station in Joplin, Missouri. My business partner and I had about 30 young people from Ozark Bible College that worked with us in what we called Pinney-Brooks Specialty Services.  That simply meant, if it were honest work, and paid money, we did it.  Melba was the dispatcher that assigned work and kept track of us all.  The service station was an ideal answer to having a headquarters and a place in out of the harsh Missouri winter.  We paid only 2 cents a gallon of gas pumped for rent.  That way, if we were not making money, rent cost us nothing.  There was a pay phone, two inside bays to do mechanic work, and a heater to warm us up as we came inside from our various jobs.  We had a battery charger, and extra batteries, and we could count on several calls each morning for our service car.  People’s cars did not start in the cold weather, and they needed to get on the road to go to work.  I had a ’51 “Stude” V8 with a big, oak-wooden front bumper that was 12 inches high and the width of the car.  I could push off any standard transmission to get it running. 

   With the beginning of the 60s, more and more cars were equipped with automatic or, as we called them, slip-o-matic transmissions.  They would not push start.  Jim Brooks, my partner, and soon to be, brother-in-law, and I took a set of long, battery cables with a regular battery clamp on one end and added welding cable clamps on the other end.  We would over night charge the battery to which we connected the cables and carry it in the trunk of the car as a hotshot jumper.  We would open the hood of the car that would not start, connect the cable jumpers to the car battery and “vroom” the car started.  We charged a dollar for a jump start or a push start.  You understand, we didn’t get wealthy at those prices.  We thought we were really smart in our operation.  But that winter, someone else was really smarter; they hooked snapper clamps on each end of the long cable, and would use the cables to jump the dead car from your running car.  That brilliant guy called them jumper cables, and is still charging his bank account with daily returns. 

   The idea of transferring power and energy from one source to another has been around since the beginning of time.   God, in His creative genius, knew our psyche really well; we were created in His image, and are incomplete copies of himself.  In many ways, we function as He functions.  We are driven by love, anger, loneliness, joy and emotional needs.  However incomplete, we are very much like the Father.  We are studying the five  love languages at our Sunday evening study and class time.  Gary Chapman lists these five love languages that are true of God and man as: (1) Words of Affirmation, (2) Quality time, (3) Receiving and giving gifts, (4) Acts of service, (5) Physical touch.  Each of these five languages of love are jumper cables in our relationships with others.  Because we are all created different and unique, each one will be a jumper cable to a greater or lesser degree in your and my life.      

   A person can be feeling lonely and blue on a cloudy winter’s morning, and a friend can call and tell you about something that you have spoken, written or done that has meant so very much to them and how it was so well done.  That fifteen minute phone call or letter just jumped started your day.  You are flying high, at full power.  You just got a jumper cables blessing.

   You can be “breaking your neck” to get things done, and a friend stops by to give you a hand.  To take time out of their life to help you; what was drudgery a few minutes before, becomes a joy because someone is helping you and working by your side with quality time.  You just got a jump start.

   You are fighting deadlines and you are way behind.  The coffee pot is working overtime to keep you awake and sharp of mind.  You are not sure that you can make it this time, and a granddaughter walks by on the way home from school and gives you a bouquet of dandelions that she picked just for you on the way to your house. Suddenly you have the jolt of over 10,000 mg of caffeine, and you are flying toward the finish line.  Your granddaughter just hookup her jumper cables, and jump started you.

   You come in from work wiped out emotionally, the kids have a note from the teacher; tonight is a PTO program, and your grade schoolers are looking at you, and counting on you, to be there for them.  You cannot put one foot in front of the other and your husband puts his shoes back on, and says, “Come on kids, let’s go show those teachers what we are made of.”  Then he pats you and says, “veg out tonight, sweetheart, it’s my turn.”  Suddenly you remember why you selected him to be the father of your children.  You just got a jump start. 

   My secondary language of love is Words of Affirmation, but my primary love language is Physical Touch.  I know that many are the same.  Even those that physical touch is a secondary or third language of love in their emotional life, it is very important.  Let me explain how I believe that God made us in His image.  We are a product of the Touch of the Master’s hand.  We go back to creation, and Christ in God spoke everything into being.  That is, except man and woman.  We were a hands-on creation.  Genesis one quotes God as saying to Christ and the Holy Spirit that were all present in the creation, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground…”  Later, God caused a deep sleep to come over Adam and took a rib bone  from his side, and healed the side.  About that bone, God hand formed a helpmate for Adam; from his side, to stand by his side.  The poet, James Weldon Johnson, spoke of God kneeling down in a swamp like a mammy, and scooping up mud in His hands and forming man as an object of clay, then, bending over His creation, He breathed the breath of life into the nostrils of man, and he became a living soul.  When he had formed each exquisite curve into Eve’s body by hand, he breathed life into her and presented her to Adam.  The scriptures give us a much sanitized copy of what was said, “This is  now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.”  What I really see Adam saying, as he opened his eyes from being anesthetized by God, was, “Whoa! God, you have done Good!”

   Immediately, God gives instructions for physical touch.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (physically become one body in sexual copulation). Various translations use “cleave” or ”cling” to his wife in the place of “united.” 

   The whole idea, we were made to touch each other physically, and that touch was to be a dynamo in our lives, jumper cables to get us started and to make us “purr.”  God’s whole idea of touch is also appropriate touch.

   From Proverbs, Solomon reminds us that he who refreshes others, refreshes himself.  Touch is a two way street.  When hurricane Mitch devastated Central America a few years ago, and we, along with SAEM, gathered and sent over ten thousand pounds of clothes, shoes, food stuff and baby supplies to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and much help to Guatemala, including rebuilding a widow’s house that was destroyed by a mud slide, one of the must interesting stories that came from the emergency hospitals our government and the French government set up was of babies that were dying in the field hospitals.  

   The wonder of the modern plastic age, thousands of solid baskets were being used for baby baskets along the Eastern mountainsides that reached down toward the Caribbean sea. As billions of gallons of water tumbled down the mountainsides, the water caught up everything in their way and washed it out to sea.  As the storm cleared and the sun broke out, there were literally hundreds of babies floating in plastic tubs that had been inexpensive baby beds, some as far as two miles out to sea.  Upon realizing the enormity of the floating mob of babies crying for “mama,” French, American, and English rescue teams set out to gather the babies from their unintended sea voyage. Dozens of field hospitals were packed with babies needing changed, fed, and treated medically.  All at once, the rescued babies began to lose life signs and drift into a coma or die.  The doctors were stunned; they were doing everything possible to feed, care for and doctor the babies that had survived the holocaust that had taken their siblings and parents lives.  A battle-hardened French head nurse that had seen duty in Vietnam, and at other ends of the earth, realized the babies were loosing the battle for life because they needed more than a diaper change, more than a bottle; they needed  human, physical touch.  Her whole nurse corps was working 20 hour days just to keep up the life-giving duties.  This nurse went to the teen girls that were recuperating in the field hospital and hired them.  She requisitioned a dozen rocking chairs for each field hospital, and the teen girls were assigned babies that they were to cuddle, hold, rock, touch, and talk to for one-half hour then go to the next, repeating as often as time would allow.  The deaths stopped and the jumper cables worked.  Life’s power was transferred from one human person to another.  This was all designed in by the touch of the Master’s Hand.  Touch does not just express sexual love from one person to another; it expresses emotional love and strength to others.  In the Gospels, Jesus shocked his fellow men by allowing the woman to bring their children to him, “To have Him touch them.”  “He took the children in His arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” 

   I can remember the first time Melba and I engaged in interdigitation before marriage (calm down; that means to hold hands).   We were walking on the high school campus at RUHS.  I reached over and took her hand, and she did not pull away, that was a wonderful feeling.  We want to be careful here, when I said that God desired touch in an appropriate way.  Many feel that touch to be emotionally communitive, it must be to the erogenous zones of the body, the areas where we know our hands do not belong unless we are married.  This is not true; our body is covered with tiny receptors, called tactile receptors. Yes, there are clusters at certain areas that highly increase the sense of touch.  The tip of the tongue is much more sensitive than the big toe.  That does not mean that the big toe does not enjoy a foot rub.  A slap in the face is destructive to a child or an adult, a hug can bring a sense of joy and happiness.  I am going to leave instructions on marital touch until the Sunday night lesson on touch in which we will divide the group by age and sex.  The non-sexual touch is the jumper cable about which I want to spend much of this essay. 

   Jesus us my example in everything that we are to do.  He touched children, and he is our example.   I want to return to Jesus and small children here.  Matthew 19:13 and following we find this account, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and to pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come unto to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heavens belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed His hands on them, he went on from there.”  Children need such touching, and this goes far beyond the diaper and crib stage.  Children of all ages need hugs and kind words to go with  them.  Now, let’s be clear here, this does not give license for incest and inappropriate touch on girls or boys.  Incest is men, women or children touching, manipulating the sexual organs of the body in such a way as to try to stimulate either person.  This includes the aggressor stimulating the victim or demanding that the victim stimulate them.  This is always and forever a crime against the child and a sin before God.  Both men and women use the excuse that they need to educate the child in how to respond sexually; this is a lie and an excuse to violate the child.  This negative style and type of touch does far more damage than the slap to the face or harsh beating of the body. All are wrong and an attack on the child and a violation of the child’s rights.  That said, when you are touching the child correctly, wrestling with the child, playing contact games, and holding the child, there is an electric transfer of emotional energy and strength that occurs.  The jumper cables are connected, and a transfer of real power takes place.  The need for touch and the curiosity about touch is a very strong desire in a child as they begin to grow up. 

   A nine-year-old boy walking home from school spies a girl he has been noticing on the playground.  She is all soft looking, frilly, and he wonders in  his mind, “I wonder how she feels?”   He instinctively knows that if he walks up and starts to feel her all over her body, he will be yanked up, grounded for life, as a sex offender and evil boy. So what does he do? He walks up and hits her.  He knows that is a lessor offense and the punishment will be light, and he will satisfy his curiosity at the same time.  Boys just naturally want to feel girls.  This is a constant challenge to a youth minister.  

   You can freeze dry kids at 10, and not thaw them out till they are 23, you can lock them up in basements, you can ship them off to grandmas; the results are the same; they will be adolescent kids. The other alternative is to control their natural desires and directions.  For the last 60 years I have been involved in games that allowed controlled touch with tweens and teens. Now understand, you are not smart enough, or mean enough to make rules and ways that 100% guarantee that there will be no touch.  The great number of pregnant before marriage daughters and sons of ministers and church leaders proves that the problem will out; so here are suggestions from the front line of this battle.

   When I went to First Christian Church in Vidor, I had a number of white shot gun weddings within a few years. I came within inches of being fired the first year for deciding to address how so many were getting pregnant. One elder told me in a congregational meeting, “His sport jock 17-year-old son did not need to know about sperm or eggs, I was to keep my instructions to myself.”  That was Monday night at an emergency meeting called because of my teachings at youth group the night before.  On Wednesday night, I noticed his wife and son were not at Church. After the meeting he asked me to stop by his home at once.  As I walked through the door there was a scene I had seen many times.  A crying mother sitting alone, a frowning boy sitting by a crying girl on the couch.  Daddy welcomed me in and told me I was going to have to “make an honest man of his son.”  An impossible task at this point.  

  I should have had the guts to tell him so, and to say that marriage was not the best answer to pregnancy. I didn’t., and I spent many a late hour in those now married kids’ home, comforting a beaten and abused wife, and an angry sports jock that took his anger at being restricted by marriage out on a girl ½ of his size. Those late night trips lasted until that beaten and abused girl divorced that jock that didn’t need to know about sperm and eggs.  That  was in early 1970, and I have never again allowed parents to tell me how to handle pregnant kids that had been allowed to touch improperly; at the same time, I have developed alternatives to improper touch. 

   Our youth love to play “winkem.” It is hard to tell if the girls or boys hit harder as the occupant of the chair in front of them tries to escape.  Our kids will play this game by the hour, even the adults enjoy the swatting and running, escaping.   I can assure you anytime we have a little time and a fairly matched group of youth, “winkem” is called for.  It is nothing more that controlled touching with rules and restrictions.  Proper dancing, playing “shark” in the swimming pool or lake, and other games that allow boys to touch girls at play and girls to touch boys at play, allows for the tactile senses to be stimulated to a proper degree.  Now here is the caveat. You must keep rotating girls and boys in the games so no one couple becomes aroused and heads off by themselves. The following rules also are necessary. You supervise the homeward trip after such games, and when the evening is over, they are off to their own homes and not allowed to go off alone.  Tactile contact requires good rules just like football and other contact sports.  The delicate balance is to allow enough touch to satisfy their curiosity and good feelings of being touched and accepted, but not enough to arouse unwanted sexual actions. 

   With adults that are married, you have altogether different rules.  “Winkem” is not an adult game to be played by married couples, no more than spin the bottle is.  Adults get their proper tactile contact in the marriage relationship, and not at party games. If they are not getting satisfaction at home, their party tactile contact will be destructive and explosive. Don’t go there.  I see improper tactile contact between marred adults all too often, and it always, sooner or later, leads to problems.  

   Jesus also touched lepers, the blind, known publicly sinning women.  Today, in the church, we have the responsibility to touch the “untouchables.”  We don’t have a lot of lepers around today, but we have an ever increasing group of HIV positive AIDS victims, people with cancer, and an ever increasing number of breathing diseases from smoking or environmental problems.  There has been a reduction of street walkers and hookers hanging out on the corner. They have been replaced by the girls that are giving it away free.   Our churches are loaded with girls that have had an abortion, living with a boy friend, living in homosexual relationships, and  high school and college age kids that are just indiscriminately hooking up, having friends with privileges; with no more thought about it, than 50 years ago, going out for a coke.  Many ministers are just closing their eyes to who these folks are, and refusing to admit they are sitting in the pews.  Others are banning them from the church, and the congregation is getting smaller and smaller.  Jesus had a whole different approach.  He allowed the street walker coming into Simon’s house to wash his feet with her tears and then dry them with her hair.  He allowed the legal eagles to throw a woman taken in adultery at his feet and try to use her to trip him up. He revealed their hypocrisy, and they fled; he forgave the woman and made a lifetime friend. Jesus was not afraid of touching sinners, and lifted them up in the process. 

    Here are the ground rules for touching HIV positive or people with other diseases.  First, learn to wash your hands after each contact. If you are in the hospital, go to a restroom and wash your hands with soap. Holding hands with a sick person gives them a jump on getting well.  I often take Dr. Tishenor’s antiseptic with me to clean my hands between sick room visits. This kills everything, and dries on its own.  You can be a toucher and remain safe from infection by this method.  The important thing to remember, you don’t put your hand in your mouth for any reason while in contact with the sick. 

   We are told by Paul to greet each other with a holy kiss. This is good scriptural advice.  This is a kiss on the cheek, or forehead.  This is a light hug that represents warmth and concern.  Believe me, both the man and the woman knows it when they exceed the “holy Kiss”  or “holy hug.”  At that moment, get a hold of yourself, and get back on target, or ban yourself from the contact arena. 

   There is a whole area that we need to address here at Agape.  We have a good portion of our folks that are single, divorced, widowed, and are in need of tactile contact to fill their love tank, and to help them respond properly to relationships in the church.  I am going to set down some recommendations and rules.   I am very aware that there is a need for appropriate touching to be going on in such a way as to fill everyone’s love tank, and keep us in a spiritual and holy relationship.  In fact, my greatest concern with teens and adults are romantic relationships that have over the past year divided or hurt our congregation.  

(1) Do not date within the congregation unless you both are mature enough to continue with your relationship in the church if you quit dating.  I have a rule with adults that can’t get along, “You can divorce each other as husband and wife, but you can not divorce each other as brother and sister in Christ.”  I do not ask for or allow couples to quit church if one of them gets a divorce.  The same is true of dating situations.  You have to be mature enough to handle a break-up of relations without breaking up your relationship with Christ.  If you are not that mature, then you are not mature enough to date.  

(2) Be a thinking person in church. If you expect to hug someone or expect a tactile touch and holy kiss, then take regular baths. (Do I need to explain that? At least one a week.) Brush your teeth, use mouth wash, don’t pass gas in people’s face; that is, if you smoke, don’t breathe on people or near people. Change your clothes before you come to church, and wash your clothes each week.  Smokers need to be extra careful about this; you stink worse than most folks.  Use a light cologne or after shave, perfume.  If a person is allergic, they will tell you. Better to be rejected because of your perfume, than because you stink.  Keep your hands above the waist and behind a person. 

   Our single adults will respond to your moves to offer a hug. If they back off, then you back off. Watch for signs as to what they will accept. 

   For husbands and wives, the gift and grace of a touch is a sweet reminder that you are loved and cared for.  The loving touch from a mate, no matter where that touch lands on the body, is a dynamic transfer of emotion  and feelings from one person to another.  Often a wife will say, “I allow my husband to touch me whereever he wants, but I was brought up not to touch another person.  I am sure my husband gets enough tactile pleasure and reassurance by touching me; I don’t need to touch him.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  There is a reassurance of relationship when a mate puts their hand on the shoulder of one they love. It is like jumper cables from one human battery to another. 

    I want to go back to Proverbs 11:25: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”   In a very busy world, there are lots of broken hearts to mend, a lot of relationships that are just holding on that could be sparked into a raging fire of happiness.  There are thousands that have resigned themselves to accepting to status quo as the best that they can expect, “it will never get better.”  All that single person needs is a set of jumper cables to attach to another lonely person, with words of encouragement, quality time, small gifts, acts of service or a simple touch to set their whole world afire.  Many marriages could be taken out of the hum-drum and rocketed into a fresh warmth and awareness by the simple touch of the other person to whom they were married a long time ago, but for some reason they had lost the ability to reach across the bed, dining room table, or front seat of the car, and on purpose, meaningfully, touch their mate. 

   Many people in the church are going through life with a dead battery, many a marriage  has long ago coasted to the side of the road, dead in the water, with not lingering hope of ever getting the spark back.  Many a single person has bought the lie, that God just didn’t have anyone for them, God decided that they should life alone and lonely.  In spite of a clear biblical injunction that “it was not good for man to live alone.”  God is  often blamed for a simple lack of jumper cables.  Solomon was an expert at relationships. He made it plain; if you refresh others, you refresh yourself.  This is a benefit of doing unto others  what you would have them do unto you.  This is a dictum of life, that works most of the time with Christian and non-Christian people.  They will respond in kind.  If you smile at someone, they will smile back.  If you are kind to someone, they will be kind back. This is universal with people.  A Christian responds with love and kindness even when we are greeted with anger and hate.  But that is the theme of another essay. 

   The neat thing about reciprocol trade is that you can decide to be the one that starts the exchange.   You can be the generous person that chooses to refresh another, and starts the process going.  The pay-it-forward plan always has to start with someone.  Then many can benefit. 

   To me, jumper cables in the car are as important as a spare tire.  You never know when you will need a jump, or when you can be a good neighbor and jump someone else off.  Having a set of metal jumper cables in your car is just a way to make sure you can be a friend to someone in need in a rather short period of time.  At the same time, you are ready in case you need to ask for help; you are prepared to the point of having your own cables.  

   What about your life in the mainstream of everyday happenings?  Are you prepared to give a few kinds words, a little of your time, are you able to reach out to someone with a simple gift, an act of service, or at least hold their hand while they are getting over a disastrous phone call or angry event in their life?   In one way or another, we each need our jumper cables each day.  The ones in my car’s trunk are at ready.  I want to make sure my emotional jumper cables are at ready, and I am alert as to when to bring them out and get someone started on a better life today, a happier time, a renewed spirit.   As we walk through life, let us learn from the little children that Jesus sat on his lap and touched; a bouquet of dandelions are not that hard to arrange.