“Hey! Have I told you about my trip to Bulgaria?” Those are dangerous words! You could find yourself trapped in a conversation with me for a very long time! What an amazing adventure! I had the opportunity to travel to Bulgaria two weeks ago with a team that worked alongside missionaries to Bulgaria and Bulgarian Christian leaders. Our shared goal was to make the gospel more accessible to people touched by disability in that country. And God worked in marvelous ways—as He always does!
One of the topics we discussed frequently, as we journeyed from city to city, was the value of every human being. Not because of who we are, or what we do. But because of Whose we are, and what He has done for us. By endowing us with His image, God has imparted to us immeasurable value. As Professor Jerram Barrs from Covenant Seminary says, we should learn to look at every human being and say, “You are glorious!” We ought to see the goodness, truth and beauty of God in every person we meet. One way I like to think of the image of God is that it is like a mirror. We image God in the ways that we reflect the essence of His character through our God-given capacities. But the problem is this: because we live in a fallen/broken world, the mirror is cracked. We have cracked bodies, cracked spirits, cracked emotions, cracked minds, and cracked relationships. So here is the challenge: What will you and I focus on? Will we focus on the cracks? The brokenness? The marred aspects of the image? Or will we focus on the reflection—distorted as it may be?
When I was in Bulgaria, I became (alright, true confessions…)”obsessed” with Bulgarian pottery. I probably carried 30 pounds of it home in my carry-on luggage. It was just so beautiful (and reasonable)—I couldn’t resist! (Lest anyone tell me I need “pottery therapy”—I know I could have resisted. I chose to not resist. There. I said it. Now, back to my story…) My family of origin seems to have a genetic predisposition for loving beautiful china, so this shouldn’t shock anyone who knows me. When I arrived home, though—as you can imagine—4000 miles later, all of my precious possessions didn’t make it intact. (Can you hear the voice of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings chanting, “My precious…”?) One of my beautiful plates cracked. After lamenting the loss of one of my favorite pieces, I put it in the trash can. Then I thought, “What am I doing? I just spent an entire week traveling around Bulgaria, encouraging people to focus on the reflection of the goodness, truth and beauty of God in every person—and not to focus on the cracks. This is the perfect wall decoration for my office, to remind me of God’s truth about people, created in his image.” So, now it is mounted on a plate hanger, placed lovingly on the wall above my desk!
How about you? What are you focusing on today? When you look at your spouse, is the first thing you see the reflection of God’s character—in some way, shape or form? When you look at your child with special needs—are you focusing on the cracks in body or mind—or are you looking for the goodness, truth and beauty of God’s image shining through? When you were cut off in traffic this morning, what was the first thing you saw in the driver? I bet you weren’t shouting: “You are glorious!” (Second true confession: me neither. I’m still a work in progress too.)
Will you pray—with me—today? Will you ask God to give you eyes to see? Eyes to find the myriad of ways in which His glory is right before you today in every person you meet? Maybe it is your IEP team. Maybe it is your child. Maybe it is your medical specialist. Maybe it is your child’s van driver. It doesn’t matter. The Scriptures teach us that human beings are created in His image. Take God at His word today—and open your eyes.
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
—Open My Eyes (Clara Scott, 1895)
In Jesus’ Name,