I was driving past a development of new homes last night, not far from where I live. Being a builder, myself, I notice things like the style of architecture, pitch of the roof and any interesting or unique elements to the design.
Some time ago, when my wife and I lived with our young kids in Fresno, California, we’d often visit model homes to fuel our thoughts of one day having a dream home of our own. Certain things would always get our attention. One of those was a particularly attractive view out a picture window.
Years before that, in my days as a single, I rented a flat with a view that was to die for! My apartment sat on a hill above Dana Harbor in Southern California. On a clear day, the view stretched from the lighthouse at the southern end of the breakwater all the way down to La Jolla in San Diego. That’s about sixty miles of coastline with sloping hills on the left and the waves of the blue Pacific Ocean beckoning adventurers to sail southeast over the horizon to the right. I could stare at it for hours.
Lately, though, I’ve realized something about picture windows and the view they afford. To begin with, the window isn’t a structural element; it cannot bear any weight other than its own. The framer has to specially prepare the wall to divert all loads around the window. That glass offers benefits, but it’s a weak point in the structure of the house.
We choose to include windows because we want to be able to see outside when we are in. It’s also nice that our friends can tell that we are home by seeing light through the window or movement inside. Of course, if a person gets too close to our window and peers in at us, we can get pretty nervous.
They see the dishes left on the kitchen table after a hasty breakfast. The bed in the master suite might have been left in a shambles with “unmentionables” draped over the bedpost. Most of us have curtains to close off the view until we have cleaned things up. We can hide ourselves and our messes from prying eyes and we do. It’s proper.
Our souls are like that, too. We build a “house” around ourselves for our protection. We design it to look as beautiful as possible, paying extra attention to “unique” elements that set us apart from the crowd. We make the foundation strong, if we are wise, and carefully raise the walls and roof so all will be safe inside.
But, our “windows” present the same challenges as the ones in our physical house. They are our weak points. They are little openings in our fortress where our faults are transparent and laid bare for all to see. We find ways to hide what’s going on inside. We build a lovely lattice to diffuse the view, or we devise some sort of drapery to block out the light.
Then the Lord comes in to stay. We receive Him and our priorities change. We want to share our testimony with others but, to do that we have to open the drapes. Our floors are still a mess, the bathroom “potty” is filthy, the laundry… Oh, we forgot to do the laundry! Better to keep the curtains closed. Maybe after we mature a little (you know, get things cleaned up a bit), we’ll be able to have a testimony. We begin to hate those weak areas; those windows.
But it is the windows that let passers-bye see Jesus living inside. The lovely walls, our strengths, obscure any view of Him, really. When we display our strengths, the response is something like, “Wow, he sure is good at that!” They see us, not the Lord.
No, the Apostle Paul was right when he wrote that God’s “power is perfected in weakness.” Christ is seen in us when we open up the curtains and remove the barriers that keep others from looking in through our windows. “I would rather boast about my weakness,” Paul continues, “that the power of Christ may be seen in me.” It’s as if he scrubs the glass clean so that nothing gets in the way of the view in.
Can God really expect us to put our worst attributes on display? What would happen to our reputation, if people actually knew what we’re really like? Is it true that while people need a perfect Jesus, they need to see Him living in imperfect people that are like themselves? Could it be our shortcomings that allow neighbors and friends to accept Jesus’ payment for their own faults?
Are we ready to actually trust that what the scripture says is right? Are we willing to risk finding out if it’s true? Can we boast about our weaknesses that the power of Christ may be seen in us?