I love church buildings. Before you jump to conclusions, I understand the church is not the building but the people. Nevertheless, I believe there is something BIG to be said about constructing buildings that point people Heavenward. I love to go to the older churches in big cities and see how the congregation put together brick and mortar to give God glory. I love to see huge ceilings reaching up to Heaven. I love to see where the pulpit is placed; to see the position the proclamation of the Word is given. I love to see the layout of the pews; the importance given to the role of the worshipper. I just love church buildings.
One of my favorite parts about older church buildings is the windows. Many of them have stained glass to let the sunlight in. The older windows are ‘leaded.’ This means they were put together by hand by taking random pieces of glass (sometimes with trash glass…my favorite!) and melting lead in the right places to hold them in place. This is such a delicate process that produces, with diligence, so much grace for the eye to enjoy.
I witness so much hope in these windows! If God can give grace to an artist for the purpose of creating such a visual out of broken glass, just what can He do with me and you?
When was the last time you stepped back and looked at the artistry God has performed in your life? Really. When do we really reflect on the grander picture? I find myself living in the here and now, worrying about the will be! Let’s just X the will be. That’s in God’s hands. As for the here and now, we MUST pay attention to our steps in the present. We MUST give ear to those around us. We MUST walk according to the Word. All that said you and I both know faithfulness produces fruit and fruit grows in a garden. I’m saying it’s a good thing to take a walk through the garden every once in a while.
What happens when we don’t look back? We grow up in a world that focuses more and more on ‘me’ and less and less on God. We get overwhelmed by the challenges we are facing. We tend to think often “I can’t do this!” and we forget God has done it several times in us and through us already.
I remember one particularly dark, trying time in my life thinking I was totally worthless. I shared this analogy with a friend: God had to take a cross country trip and He had a choice between two cars. One was a brand new sports car…comfortable, powerful, smooth riding, ready for the road. The other was a broken down 80’s Fiesta (if you don’t know what that is, just trust me when I say you wouldn’t want to take a cross country trip in one. Most people didn’t even want to go to the grocery store in one!)…flat tires, smoking engine, cracked windshield, enough power to go 50mph downhill. Why in the world would our Father choose the Fiesta, especially when no one else would?
The simple answer to that analogy is when that Fiesta rolls across the finish line everybody gives the credit to the driver. God will always get the glory when He uses broken pieces of trash glass to accomplish His purposes. He is not looking for the powerful in the world to lend their support to Him. He is looking for the weak in the world to trust Him. Remember? “The last will be first and…”
The deeper answer to that analogy is God loves to use the cracked pots! There is something magical about knowing God’s strengths and witnessing firsthand them being made perfect in your weaknesses. These things can be read and comprehended in the Word, but they don’t really take on skin until you experience them. You just have to believe God can make something beautiful out of your life!
The next time you feel like all you’ve become is a piece of trash glass, ask your artistic Father to show you the bigger picture. Take a step back and remember the times He has chosen you…again and again…even when He didn’t have to. Add that up to a window in a sanctuary. Add those windows up (believers together) and see a sanctuary that points people Heavenward every time they walk in. And then walk in!