Acknowledging Imago Dei

It’s the only way I can make it through these conversations, it’s the only way I can be okay with all I’ve seen and heard the last few weeks – Acknowledging Imago Dei. Remembering the Image of God stamped across his creation, a picture of his care for humanity even when all around screams broken and evil.

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15 minutes from the resort with the swimming pool is a slum, Moti Dongor in Margao. I shake my head as I try to reconcile the contrast between where I just was, in pristine beauty with palm trees beckoning towards a bluer than blue pool, to where I am. A skinny dog is digging through garbage that ranks. Small shacks made of corrugated metal and other materials are crowded next to each other, making room for one more shelter. Through the garbage to the left skips a little girl, she looks to be about seven years old. She is lovely in energetic youth. Her smile and her gait are light, free from the bondage that I feel in the surroundings. I stop, ask permission to take her photo, and she smiles with glee. We look at the photo together and she happily approves. Imago Dei. This little girl – reflecting the image of God by a garbage heap. Imago Dei.

Further up the hill we walk, the area becoming more congested and crowded, until we come to a narrow stairway to the left. Up the stairs and into a community center. The room we enter is small but full of sewing machines and young women, all hard at work creating. Creating through crochet needles, creating through sewing machines – no outside surroundings can snuff out the creative spirit endowed by their Maker. Imago Dei.

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I slowly hear stories about Syria from my husband. They hurt my head. I can’t take too many. I can’t wrap my brain around the harm and evil of man on man. Natural disasters are one thing, war is completely different. The camps of internally displaced people where I worked a couple of years ago in Pakistan – they were a different story. Yes people were displaced. Yes they had lost much. But they were back in their villages with the hope of rebuilding. They had food – fish in abundance because of the flood waters, rice, chapatis. They had community.

These stories? They hurt the brain. Refugee camps with no water and no latrines, but twelve thousand people milling in chaos. Stories of violence and useless sacrifice, of elementary school wagers resulting in tragedy. But despite this – in the midst of this horror, people survive, they live. They don’t lose hope. If that is not evidence of the image of God, of Imago Dei, then I don’t know what is. This resilience cannot be man made.

And so I am certain of one thing in these days: that we are stamped with the image of God. Yes – it is tarnished and marred beyond recognition at times, but it emerges solid just when I start to lose all sense of perspective and hope. Acknowledging Imago Dei, I whisper ‘thank you’.

“Murmuring thanks does not deny that an event is a tragedy and neither does it deny that there’s a cracking fissure straight across the heart. Giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.” from Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts Devotional

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15 thoughts on “Acknowledging Imago Dei

  1. Thanks Marilyn. The images are powerful. I noticed the smiles. As one of the replies said, “…a glimpse of dignity and joy.” In our world of abundance there must be a lesson for us. Lord have mercy.

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    1. Thanks Bettie. I agree with you. I think about this a lot, what it all means. What the verse in Luke means “Blessed are the poor, for their’s is the kingdom of Heaven”. I know Matthew has “in spirit”. I love hearing from you and knowing that a lifetime of seeking God never grows old.

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  2. Our hearts must break for what breaks His heart…”break our heart for what breaks yours…You died for sinners just like me, the leper at your feet”…Jesus, Friend of Sinners, Casting Crowns
    Sinners made in the image of God. It can be there in India or right down the street at the local elementary school…Lord, have mercy on me and let me show your mercy to others.
    Thank you for your words, Marilyn….God uses them as a balm on my heart and to share with the ladies I teach. Praying for you

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    1. Penny — thank you. It’s the way I’ve been feeling as well. Just want to be an ostrich some days until I remember we’re called to respond to broken and evil through the grace of redemption.

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