Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)
TITLE: Stain Glass Windows
By Kenneth Heath
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In the village stands a Church surrounded by tall oak trees that shelter it from the hot summers and the strong winds that blow in from the coast. It’s long and narrow, with high ceilings held in place by beautiful wooden arches. There is a carved oak pulpit, baptismal font and pews, but what caught my attention were the stain glass windows. They are beautiful, made with such love and skill, a tribute to a lost art. The inside of the building was dark and somber, but with the sun behind them, the windows were beautiful with a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors, tinted glass and lead forming a picture that so few get to see.
Is this not the picture of our lives? Outward appearances are deceptive. The body beautiful or not, hides the real person inside. Many spend thousands to improve the outward exterior, yet take so little time to discover the hidden beauty within.
What does it take to reveal this hidden beauty? Sometimes it is revealed through acts of kindness, a caring heart, a word of encouragement or a thoughtful gesture. Stored within us, are gifts and talents, just waiting to be released, yet we keep them deep down inside, in a dark room that only we venture into, too private, too secret to share. In an intimate moment, we may share a little of our true selves, but then it’s gone, a brief glimmer of light that bursts forth and then fades into obscurity.
The realities of life cause us to build protective walls around us. We protect the “real us” and in so doing, the outer shell gets harder and harder with negative thoughts and actions prevailing. Reacting in the negative, we make wrong choices and decisions that further complicate our lives.
An analogy would be to look at a picture of a placid lake high in the mountains. Travel agents often have them on their walls, projecting a picture of peace and tranquility, with still waters reflecting the trees and the high snow capped mountains in a mirrored image. But what is just under the surface of those waters? Unseen currents, discarded debris left by campers, decaying vegetation or worse. We paint a picture to the world of who we are not. We misrepresent ourselves and allow life’s events to dictate who we are.
The truth of the matter is, that all of life’s experiences are multicolored pieces of glass, waiting for the right moment for the Master to anchor them into the lead of our lives. He creates these windows as unique masterpieces for all to see in the gallery of life.
A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. She received the news with grace, and celebrated the life she had been given. In spite of the pain, she saw to the needs of her young family and others. Daily she expounded the virtues of her Lord and exhibited a positive attitude as she went about her tasks. Her love for others became more apparent as the days passed and then after many years the Lord took her home. Reflecting on her life, I realize not only did she show us how to live but also how to die. In spite of her circumstances she always revealed her stain-glass window to the world.
The eyes are the windows of the soul and “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,” Proverbs 15:30. Imagine how different the world would be, if we all took off our sunglasses and revealed the beautiful stain-glass windows within. Surely the world would be a better place. Imagine the vibrant colours and hues revealed for all to share. Our life’s journey is not supposed to be a solo journey and we as the body of Christ are the Church and as believers we need to be those “stain-glass windows” to this lost and dying world. It is time to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the lost and a guide to other pilgrims on their journey. We have been given so much and now it is time to give it back with love and in so doing reveal Gods’ Glory to the world.
I once knew a beautiful stain-glass window, her name was Michelle and she continues to shine in our memories.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
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