Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them
(Genesis 1:26-27 NRSV)
MO is at Black Rifle Coffee, Beyond Black is in the cup, silence is on the playlist, and God is in the room rocking His image, even when we don't.
Her name was Doreen, and she is all I remember about Sierra Bible Camp in 1961. My friend Kathy introduced us, and from that point on, I was dazzled. On the last day of camp, she gave me her address and on the way down the mountain on the bus, I wrote my first letter. My mother would say I was smitten.
Doreen had a boyfriend at home, but I could write her.
She lived over an hour away, but that didn't matter, I was 15 and enchanted. I didn't drive yet anyway. So, I wrote letters, not love letters, just weekly letters... and practiced mailbox hovering until...
The voice on the phone said, "Doreen is dead. She was murdered by her boyfriend."
I dropped the phone: "WHAT?"
I stood motionless, in shock: "NOOO!"
Murder was unimaginable, The pain shot through every bone in my body; the hollowness was sudden and vicious; part of me had been ripped away,
Later I was told sometime on the morning of her death, her boyfriend, Dean, fell from a tree, hurting his head. With a pounding headache, he rode his bike to Doreen's to call his dad.
But, within minutes, something snapped. Dean attacked her, knocked her out, beat her, stabbed her more than two dozen times, and tried to rape her. He closed those beautiful blue eyes for good. And I hated him.
Doreen and Dean and Kathy, along with a number of my camp friends, attended Pacific Christian Academy in Graton, California. That's where the funeral was held on the 17th of August 1961.
I've forgotten who spoke or what was said, but I have never forgotten that song... her favorite song. We stood in the back, about ten of us, and sang:
We walk and talk as good friends should and do.
We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter...
("My God and I" by Austris August Wihto.)
I wondered what God had to laugh about in this moment. Nothing seemed laughable at all.
In the weeks that followed, while the rest of us wrestled with grief, my friend Kathy was reaching out to Dean. She saw something in him worth her time... it was a God thing.
God gave her eyes to see pain and regret, and guilt. She wrote to him, talked with him, and visited him. She was Jesus to him. She was then, and always has been, an image bearer for the King, Himself.
She forgave Dean, but it cost her.
Kathy's best friends turned against her, and others shunned and rejected her. Trapped by their hate, they didn't know how to forgive, nor did they want to; after all, it wasn't deserved or even asked for.
While serving his time, Dean found redemption... and through the years, God infused Kathy with an oversized dose of quiet courage and helped her unwrap the gift of compassion. Kathy sees as Jesus sees. Now, she is a lighthouse of hope for all who know her. Portland, beware!
Amazing things happen when we cannot see. God works miracles there in our darkness. He turns everything upside down. Grief and rejection turn into God-things — times of walking and talking with the God who is in the room and working in our darkness. And in the end, our voices do ring with laughter.
Thank you, Abba for still loving us and giving us your image to wear with honor, in spite of us.