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Revelations concerning Human Nature over a Bowl of Cream of Wheat

“O ye of little faith.” Jesus’ criticism of his disciples applies to all of us in a way that is not often considered. We do not recognize the depth and wonder of humans, even those of us who confess that we believe all humans are made in the image of God. This truth became evident to me yesterday over a bowl of cream of wheat with “the significant other.”

I have been married to the significant other for over forty years and continue to be amazed at the depths of this woman’s character and the sources for that depth. I knew that as the oldest of six children to a twice-widowed mother she had to work hard. The details of this have trickled in over the years. For example, I knew that they had to bake their bread in a brick oven, but later I discovered that they had to make the charcoal needed to heat the oven. A few years back she mentioned getting up at 4:00 am to tend their small vegetable garden before walking to school.

Yesterday’s conversation added more information to increase my admiration for her. We were discussing the various types of warm cereals she ate growing up. Cream of Wheat was her favorite, but she also liked oatmeal, cornmeal mush, and when supplies were limited, a pap made from flour was eaten. However, they never had cold cereal. The reason, I was told, was that they only used Pet milk because they did not have refrigeration for cold milk. “How did you keep your meat?” I asked. “We salted it,” she replied. I then discovered that they had no electricity and those kerosene lamps she always spoke of were an actual necessity for lighting. Wicks had to be trimmed and the glass cover had to be carefully washed. Buying a replacement for a broken one was very costly.

Two points can be highlighted about these revelations over a bowl of Cream of Wheat. First, the hardworking, disciplined, capable and generous character of the significant other was formed by consistent choices to face hardship and take responsibility for her and her family’s necessities. There are important and challenging philosophical and theological questions concerning human freedom, but whatever our answers to these questions may be, the fact is that we make our choices and character is shaped by the choices we make in challenging circumstances.

As important as the above truth is, I want even more to highlight the wondrous depth of human beings. Each made in the image of God from conception to death and beyond is fearfully and wonderfully made, according to the Psalmist. We are beings that think, plan, create, and love, reflecting in a creaturely way the infinite God. Think about it. Every day we walk among godlike beings. In the presence of such a divine display how can we possibly be bored?

And yet I think in our day and age we often are blind to the reality of the image of God around us. In a digital age relationships become less direct and personal. We cannot get much beyond the surface. In an age of temporary relationships, we don’t have the commitment to know the other person in the depths of their being. After years of happy marriage, I still don’t know the depths of my wife as a person, but I look forward to experiencing that depth more and more each day.

“O ye of little faith!” Believe what God has said about us. We are made in his image. Look upon others this way and act accordingly. Your life will be enriched and enriching to others.


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