“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
(Genesis 1:27 ESV)
The Central Union Mission, in Washington DC has been my home since my release from Oakdale FCI. It has been more than a home, really. It has been where I have attempted to put to use the relationship with God I had developed during my time in prison. Not only is it a place where I feel safe, secure, and stable on a personal level, it is also a place where I feel I can best follow the admonition of Jesus Christ when He said ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:31 ESV)
The Mission is in an incredible location about 5 blocks north of the US Capitol. It sits between Union Station a couple of blocks to the east, where there is always a beehive of activity as tourists combine with commuters in a daily flurry of activity, and DC’s version of “Chinatown” which sits a couple of blocks to the west.
In my immature and unwise efforts to escape myself throughout the course of my life, I have lived in many different parts of the country including Maine, New York, California, Texas, and Florida. Those are all popular places to visit and could have been wildly interesting places to live had I not been so wrapped up in my sinful existence of willful disobedience to God and hell-bent on self-destruction. I also ‘lived’ for a little over 4 years in Louisiana, but I really didn’t see much of the state from behind the razor wire at Oakdale FCI.
None of those places is quite like Washington, though. I have been in DC for almost a year now, and an amazing year it has been. When I first arrived here, I spent hours and hours walking around seeing the sights, and there are many, many sights to see here. After all, this is the seat of power in the most powerful country in the world, and a place steeped in historical significance. I was fascinated and wandered almost daily through the streets of the city.
But then life settled in around me, I became more involved in the Mission, and I didn’t venture far from there. I guess I became complacent about my surroundings, but that changed a little bit this morning.
“This morning” was Monday, April 20, and I spent the early part of the day catching up on my Bible reading and devotions, emailing some pictures of volunteers I had taken over the weekend, finishing and posting an article for “The After-Oakdale Chronicles”, and doing my laundry. At around 11 AM, I looked out the window of my room and noticed how beautiful it was on the other side of the glass.
While there was much I wanted to accomplish sitting in front of this computer screen, I felt a ‘nudge’ and put on some shorts and headed towards Union Station. It was there that my eyes began to see things differently. As I took in the sheer enormity of scale of the structure,
I realized there was something more than a simple walk in store for me.
I turned to the south and headed to the US Capitol, taking care to give God praise for the abundant beauty of the spring that was in full bloom around me. Everywhere I looked, evidence of God’s handiwork was boldly displayed. Even in the city itself, the natural beauty of the world God created was all around me.
But Washington is home to something that speaks more clearly to God’s sovereignty and His power than ‘just’ the natural beauty that abounds. The man-made beauty of the city provides ample testimony to that fact. As I approached the US Capitol,
I was struck by exactly how much our ability to create comes as a result of those words found in Genesis: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
We were created ‘in His own image’, and that not only means that we reflect God’s character, but we reflect His ability to achieve spectacular things. Now mind you, we can not even come close to duplicating God’s ability, but He did give us the gifts that enable the man-made things we see all around us to be possible.
As I turned west on the National Mall, the Washington Monument came into view
and I was further convinced that it was only by God’s design that we are capable of the things we achieve. If we were not created in His own image, our ability to reflect the creative skills of the Father of all creation – even if only on a very small scale – would not be possible.
As I walked along, I came to the National Art Gallery Sculpture Garden and was drawn to a ‘tree’ that was set apart from the rest. While the rest were all created by the hand of God, this particular tree was made of stainless steel and was created from the mind of a man, and with the hands God gave him. I had seen it before, but it looked particularly splendid sparkling brilliantly in the now-noonday sun.
I am not an art critic by any means, even though I am often critical of art, but this work struck me as being particularly thoughtful and demonstrative of the artist’s unique talents as given him by God.
I had lunch in a busy café just beyond that shining example of God’s handiwork and then turned north to wander back towards the Mission. I passed the old Farmer’s Insurance Building
and marveled again at the man-made evidence of God’s existence that surrounds us. Washington is full of beautiful old structures that testify to the fact that these things are possible only because God created us to be like Him. Not to BE Him, but to be LIKE Him.
While we will never be capable of everything that God is capable of, my walk through the streets of Washington found me thanking Him for making us the way we are. If only we would all realize that God is the source of our abilities. If only we would all give praise to God for the talents He gave us, and give Him thanks for creating us to be like Him.
Think about these things when you walk around your community.