I want you to meet my new friend Henry. I met Henry today while walking the streets of downtown Charleston, SC. I had almost walked right past the bench where he was sitting when he called out to my brother and me, asking if we were interested in the flowers he was selling. I turned, ever so slightly, to politely decline what I first saw as just another of the many vendors lining the crowded Charleston streets — but then I saw his hands. Or rather, no hands. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that instead of hands, Henry has prosthetics, two metal fingers with which to do everything we take for granted with our four fingers and opposable thumbs. And I had to know. So while I dug out the money to buy a flower, I asked, and learned. When Henry was younger, he was in an electrical accident at work and was electrocuted, costing him both of his hands. All of a sudden, I felt like my eyes were opened, and I saw a person. A human being with the image of God Himself stamped upon him — desperate, needy, but smiling. He didn’t lament such a catastrophic loss hardly at all. And you know what’s more? Henry convincingly assured me that He was trusting in Jesus’ blood to wash away his sins, and enjoys God’s presence with him. Do you know what that means? It means something a mere passerby would miss: Henry is a brother, loved with the merciful kindness of almighty God. There’s a person inside every living human body, a person God made, knows, and loves who deserves dignity simply because he or she is a living picture of God. What do you see when you look into someone’s eyes? A person? A story? An inconvenience? I know that too often I am so worried about my own image management I don’t even realize a person is standing there, or else I’m so afraid they won’t like me that I ignore or disdain them. But not God. And when God lives in us, we don’t either.
“Come back and see me!” were Henry’s parting words to us. “And if I don’t see you again here, I’ll see you in heaven!” He was almost laughing with renewed joy and hope. A new image flashed across my mind: Henry, glorified, worshipping in the presence of Jesus with two fully restored, flesh and blood hands. Hands he will one day have, because Someone else’s were mangled for him.