Others Devotional, volume 29

Seeing the Image in Others by Blake Hiemstra

Scripture:  “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'” Genesis 1:26-28

Ever have one of those days? The coffee spills, the kids’ bedrooms seem reminiscent of a cesspool, a student attempts to bellow a high-pitched shriek until his lungs give out, a coach decides to single you out as the Example of All Things Wrong with This Team, a classmate takes in a demonstrative breath while looking in your direction and asking “Who farted?” and a parent drops by after school with only one question (“Why?”), but about everything you’ve ever done as a teacher.

Weariness looms. Despair threatens. You’re tempted to cry “Uncle,” and give up.

We’ve all been there. Despite the spirited and fruitful intentions you have to experience a good day, life simply unravels and bitterness surfaces. Life in the pit just ain’t all that fun. Fulfillment and Joy seem elusive. Our fingers simply can’t wrap themselves around life’s bootstraps and pull us up. At such a point on the edge of the Pit of Despair, two surefire cures exist for the malady of hopelessness:

1. Become a hermit. Load up the truck, head for higher ground and fashion a cabin out of tree bark and petrified squirrel. Catch breakfast in a meandering stream. Commune with nature and number Solace and Isolation as your only friends. This approach to combating despair works fabulously if you’re Grizzly Adams or Bear Grylls.

Unfortunately, for the rest of us who have the raw survivalist mojo of a $3K-Armani-suit-wearing politician, not so much. A life of hermitage sometimes looks appealing, but reality dictates that we need to exist in community, interacting with our fellow members of the human race on a daily basis, even those who consistently bring Despair to the party.

Still, there’s a cure for the weariness experienced by everyone on this planet:

2. Recognize the image of God in everyone, especially your enemies. Grasp the eternal perspective, even when staring at the decidedly challenging colleagues, students and even family members who seem to crowd the tunnel, preventing you from glimpsing the light near the end.

Imagine if you took a few minutes to view the high maintenance classmate across the aisle in a new light. Maybe she’s not the chosen representative of the powers of darkness to annoy you to the point of vomiting. She’s actually an image bearer of the living God in need of grace and selected to play a role in the redemptive drama that no one else can play.

The student who carries an industrial-sized chip on his shoulder and makes an art-form of glaring and brooding? He’s really God’s chosen representative to someday lead a family and spread the gospel in his corner of the world. And guess what? He needs you to fill him with grace and compassion to prepare him for that task.

Even that persnickety uncle who hates change so much he won’t even carry quarters in his pocket was not placed on this earth for the sole reason of inducing your slot machine-like eye-rolling. The image of God lives in him, and he needs you perhaps to simply hold your tongue before it boogies overtime in a scathing rant against his stubbornness.

In short, viewing the here and now through the lens of eternity combats despair and allows you to see the people around you for who they really are: the priceless treasures of a holy God.

What would happen if we brought to mind the “other” that we really struggle with and thanked God for him or her and asked the Father to cover over that person in a special way? What would happen if we recognized that he or she was an amazingly exquisite masterpiece created by the Ultimate Artist?

It might change the way we look at our fellow human beings.

And it might change the way they look at us.

Prayer: Father, give us the grace to see your unique stamp on the hearts of every single person on this planet. Give us the vision to recognize your image embodied in our classmates, teachers, colleagues, parents and even our enemies. Fill us with your love. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

About the Author: Blake Hiemstra is a husband, father, teacher and principal who feels blessed and grateful.

Originally published on April 28, 2017.

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