Imago Dei

I stared into the eyes of Jesus a while back, while staring into the eyes of a drunk man.   

I’m ashamed to admit that had I encountered Him on any other day or in any other circumstance I would have seen only the ugly and missed the holy.

On any other day I would have seen only the alcohol, or the cigarettes or the urine stains that covered the carpet.

There’s been so many opportunities to touch the wounded, the raw, the broken down, the down trodden and the broken hearted and find the image of God at the end of my fingers.

And, I missed them.

I needed to take my shoes off, pissy carpets be damned.  I needed to take my shoes off because I was standing on Holy Ground in the middle of filth.

With a murmured prayer I asked God to push aside the veil of this man’s circumstances.  I asked Him to open the eyes of my heart and let me see the image of Him.  The image of God in a drunk man.

I never really understood how opening the eyes of your heart can move you beyond the ugly and usher in the holy; not until that moment.  We say it with alacrity, I’ve said with haste myself.

We murmur it in worship, in prayer but are we really prepared for it in this world that so often spins on the axis of crazy?  When we beg for our hearts to see are we ready for the way the floor tilts or for how the edges of our vision goes cloudy?

The room suddenly got smaller and my focus became minuscule.

There I stood, staring into the eyes of a drunk man and I saw Him with my heart.

God pushed back the veil of ugly circumstances and allowed me to see…

Imago Dei… 

The drunk man’s eyes swam and just there behind the haze of alcohol I saw a sadness so keen and achingly beautiful. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.  He slowly raised his head and met my gaze.

“You must think me disgusting,” he slurred, “you must think me so ‘f…ing’ disgusting.  How can you even see past the mess I made of myself?”

Imago Dei.

Those words began to beat with the rhythm of my heart and holding his gaze I whispered back,

“I see you. A person”

Imago Dei. 

We need to stop seeing people as their circumstances.  We need to stop calling them “the drunk,” “the schizophrenic,” “the bi-polar,” “the hooker,” “the drug addict.”  We need to stop naming them based on their circumstances and start calling them by their real name… Imgao Dei.

When we push back that cloudy veil and relinquish what our expectations of normal, or good or perfect look like and ask God to change our vision, to open the eyes of our hearts, we have no choice but to see more clearly.

We have no choice but to see past all that can define us and look only at what should define us.

We are God’s Image Bearers. 

We were not made in the image of our health, or lack thereof, or our weaknesses, or even our mistakes.  We are made in the image of God.  Into our very beings He breathed the breath of Himself into the breath of us and we became His.

“When he spoke, the world appeared.  But when he breathed, he made man in his image.”                             – Emily Freeman

I’ll never be the same.  Ever.

I’ll mess up.  I’ll let the speed of this crazy, spinning world strip me of encounters and leave me drowning in experience.  

But I will always have this moment and I will pray with every God-imaged breath in me that it will be my lifeline back to the holy – back to Him.








  1. I have no words to share. Nothing that can tell you how very much I need to read thses words today. Thank you. Thank you for opening your heart that day to see a man but also thank you for opening your heart for me.

  2. Deb Cote

    This is by far Tonya, in my estimation, the best work you’ve done yet. I wonder if this man blogged, what he too might say about this encounter with you?

  3. Oh, such a good reminder!!!

  4. Tonya, this is so very good! Thank you for this! It has touched my heart so very much. IMAGO DEI! Yes! Amen!

  5. Good words, friend

  6. I love this. And you. And that is all. (Only – of course, it never is!)

  7. This is a beautiful story and challenge.

  8. These words go deep tonight. I pray I encounter God in the people I meet and I take the time to let the veil be stripped away to reveal the true image-the face of God in the least likely, the hurting and the unloved. May we shine for God in our acceptance of all in our everyday. Blessings Mary!

  9. Your story draws me out of my “world” and into the presence of Jesus. Thank you.

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