I caught a glimpse of God today. He was looking out at me from behind the chubby cheeks of a five-year-old. They were smudged cheeks, and her teeth were rotten, but I knew it was him. So I did the only thing I could. I rummaged around for colored pencils and a few sheets of paper, set them in front of the little girl, and went on to teach her mother’s English class.
I caught a glimpse of God today. His eyes looked up from the English book that sat in between us. The woman—a woman who lives in a two room house in a village with spotty electricity and no indoor plumbing, this mother a of a year-old daughter, the woman whose hands have painted images that will in time no doubt be included among this country’s most recognized and most celebrated art—this woman paused, reread the sentence, and answered the question with perfect grammar.
I caught a glimpse of God today. I sat down in my favorite booth, ordered, then realized I had forgotten my wallet at home. When I went to tell the waiter to cancel my order, he assured me it was no problem. He’d take care of it. “We’re all people,” he said. “You can pay tomorrow.”
I caught a glimpse of God today. He was watching me from across the table, gold teeth shining, his grin stretching from ear to ear. So I ate the noodles his wife had prepared and then let her serve me a second bowl. We laughed and prayed and discussed topics as weighty as the universe itself.
Truly he is not far from each one of us. If we have eyes to see.
Then I stopped at the grocery store. I was in a hurry. A drunk woman saw “foreigner” painted across my forehead and went for it. I admit it. I didn’t see God in her. Somehow the smell of stale beer and the smoke rising from the cigarette butt she was clinging to didn’t quite lend itself to visions of the Almighty. Then she started asking me for money in slurred and broken English. I told her I didn’t give money to people who would spend it on alcohol and cigarettes. She tossed the cigarette butt, but she’d already lost her case at that point. It was hard to understand her response, so I got in my car and drove away.
Are glimpses of God present in the face of a beautiful little girl but absent in the face of a homeless woman? I’m tempted to answer in the affirmative. However, to do so would probably say much more about the state of my heart than about either a child or a homeless person.
The differences between the girl and the woman—their age, their state of cleanliness, their bad habits, their sobriety or lack thereof—are superficial in light of something much more fundamental. Both were fashioned in the image of their Maker God. Both were hand-crafted, like little statues, as testaments to his glory, and on both his fingerprints remain to this day, even though they might be smudged and under a layer of dirt.
I should have caught a glimpse of God in the drunk woman. To be honest, I didn’t want to get that close. She might have taken my clean hand in her dirty hand, and I didn’t have hand sanitizer in the car. So I pulled away and eventually drove away.
God hasn’t lost sight of the fingerprints impressed into every last one of his beloved works of creation. We see some of them, and when we do, we stand in awe at how close he is. There are more fingerprints to be seen, perhaps in places we don’t expect to find them, which means there’s more awe to feel. He’s even closer than we thought.
As close as the drunk woman outside the grocery store.