I have often been intrigued by the words of the song “Wide Eyed” sung by Nicole Nordeman.  The lyrics and the melody are beautiful; yet I have often found it difficult to understand what the song writers are trying to say. The lyrics are written below and there is a link you can click to listen to Nicole Nordeman’s performance of the song while you read the lyrics.

Wide Eyed
Performed by Nicole Nordeman on her 1998 album, Wide Eyed
(Written by Derald Daugherty and Steve Hindalong; © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.)

When I met him on a sidewalk
He was preaching to a mailbox
Down on 16th Avenue
And he told me he was Jesus
Sent from Jupiter to free us
With a bottle of tequila and one shoe
He raged about repentance
He finished every sentence
With a promise that the end was close at hand
I didn’t even try to understand

He left me wide eyed in disbelief and disillusion
I was tongue tied, drawn by my conclusions
So I turned and walked away
And laughed at what he had to say
Then casually dismissed him as a fraud
I forgot he was created in the image of my God

When I met her in a bookstore
She was browsing on the first floor
Through a yoga magazine
And she told me in her past life
She was some plantation slave’s wife
She had to figure out what that might mean
She believes the healing powers of her crystals
Can bring balance and new purpose to her life
Sounds nice

She left me wide eyed in disbelief and disillusion
I was tongue tied, drawn by my conclusions
So I turned and walked away
And laughed at what she had to say
Then casually dismissed her as a fraud
I forgot she was created in the image of my God

Not so long ago, a man from Galilee
Fed thousands with His bread and His theology
And the truth He spoke, quickly became the joke of educated
Self-inflated Pharisees like me

And they were wide eyed in disbelief and disillusion
They were tongue tied, drawn by their conclusions
Would I have turned and walked away
And laughed at what He had to say
And casually dismissed Him as a fraud
Unaware that I was staring at the image of my God

The first verse speaks of a person we might find on any inner city street corner: he seems to be delusional and lost in his addiction to alcohol. He is so incredible and his claims so outlandish that we miss the value of the person underneath the addiction; yet, just like me, he has a mother and was once someone’s little boy. He was created in the imago dei and, like a coin, still retains the image of God stamped upon him no matter how worn and damaged the coin may be. He has something to teach us even as we look at the wreckage of his life and wonder what we could do to help him.

The second person met in the song is a woman in a bookstore who is searching for answers in her life. The singer of the song wishes her well in her search but seems to not engage her in a conversation that might direct her to the image of God in which she was created. The singer has a preconceived notion that this woman would not be interested; but this does not change the fact that the woman in the bookstore also has the image indelibly stamped upon her whether or not she attends to it.

The singer begins to wonder what her response to Jesus might have been had she lived in the time when he walked and spoke in Galilee. Would she have been too well-educated to accept the teachings of this local carpenter’s son who fed people with bread and fish and theology? Would she have casually dismissed him as a fraud and missed the fact that he was the very image of our God?

The song reminds me that I want to be aware of the people who cross my path and what I can learn from my interactions with them. I want to look for any glimmer of the imago dei in those I meet. I want to be wide-eyed and aware, looking for opportunities to speak words of truth and right theology based upon the teachings of Jesus of Galilee and trust that his words will be sufficient for all of our lives.

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