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by Amy Nappa
The hands of those I meet are dumbly eloquent to me.
Clarence! I think I heard something!
Mrs. Hiller lay in bed, her eyes wide open, and nudged her sleeping husband. Perhaps youve been in a similar situation. You wake in the night hearing a noise or feeling as if something isnt right. Thats exactly what happened to Mrs. Hiller. For some reason she woke up, and as she lay there in the dark, she realized something was wrong. Why was it so dark? Why couldnt she see the light they always left burning in the hallway?
She prodded her husband again, and he rolled out of bed to investigate. But as Clarence Hiller reached the head of the stairs, he had an unfortunate rendezvous with a prowler. The two men struggled and fell together down the steps. Gunshots exploded. Mr. Hiller, shot twice, died within moments. At the sound of Mrs. Hillers screams, the would-be burglar ran.
It is not known whether the intruder took anything from the Hillers home. But he did leave something of his own at the scene of the crime: his fingerprints. The Hillers stair rail had been painted just before the break-in, and in the still-drying paint, an imprint was clear.
Later that same night, the local police questioned a parolee named Thomas Jennings. Jennings was injured, had a loaded gun, and was on parole for a previous burglary. His fingerprints also matched those left in the Hiller home. Early the next year he was convicted of the murder of Clarence Hiller.
Sounds like a pretty straightforward, cur-and-dried case, right? Well, it wasnt in 1910, when the crime took place. At that time, the study of fingerprints in relation to solving crimes was relatively new. It had only been six years earlier, at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair, that experts from Scotland Yard had begun training American officers in the craft of identifying criminals by the fingerprints theyd left behind.
Jennings later appealed to the Supreme Court of Illinois and lost. It was a historic moment. For the first time, the American courts determined that fingerprints were admissible as evidence in a trial.1
The words of Jesus in John 14:11 remind us that Jesus identity could be traced through the evidence of his actions. When a leper was healed, people knew Jesus had been there. When a hurting heart found forgiveness, there was proof that the voice of Jesus had been heard. The things Jesus did, the miracles he performed, the words he spoke-these were his fingerprints on the world. These touches proved his identity and left evidence that he had touched lives. Even today they are there for us to follow, leading us to the one and only Son of God.
As women, you and I leave fingerprints on the world. No, Im not talking about handprints in wet paint, or even messy smudges on windowpanes (although I admit I have a few of those on my kitchen window right now). A womans touch can leave fingerprints without physical contact of any kind. We leave our impression on the lives of people around us through our words and actions as well as our physical touch. And just as the fingerprints of Thomas Jennings were unique to him, your touch on the lives of others is like the touch of no one else. The fingerprints you leave on someones heart can be traced back to no one but you.
Thomas Jenningss fingerprints revealed that he was a killer. What do your fingerprints reveal about you? What evidence have you left behind in your home, your church, your community?
A womans touch can be powerful! Lets look honestly at our own touches and consider how our words and actions impact those around us. And in the process, well learn how to leave touches that will bring blessing and positive change to the hearts and lives of others, as well as ourselves.
Heavenly Father, may the traces I leave behind lead others to you.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father
1 The facts on the Hiller story, the case of People v. Jennings, and the 1904 Worlds Fair were adapted from Mark A Acree, "People v. Jennings: A Significant Case in American Fingerpint History, MSFS, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Found on-line at: http://www.iinet.com/market/scafo/library/140401.html
Author: Amy Nappa
Publication Date: January 17, 2002
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