What the stained-glass window says (and why you should shine in the New Year)

Categorized as Rhonda's Posts

I’m running along our country road. The fields on either hand lie fallow, slumbering and still, tucked in ‘neath a blanket of white. Birdsong trills unseen, joy-notes like crystals sprinkling down. And I’m remembering a warm, summer day, and that picture…

It was on a bright summer morning in June that it came. Sitting amidst the clamor and clatter of commerce, I was having espresso with Papa at Starbucks, picking His wonderful brain. When all at once, it appeared.

We’d been talking about repentance, what it was and was not, an issue I’d struggled with for years. Just what was it?

Did repentance mean that one had to be a colorless, shapeless blob on the floor, subject to a complete overtaking and submission to a demanding god and other Christians? That all traces of the “you” you were gone? That one was just an object to be taken over and controlled? That one shouldn’t think or desire or look different somehow than what was prescribed or deemed good by others, or Mad God?

Did repentance mean an erasing, an obliteration of the soul? A total abolishing of one’s self?

As I wrestled that day, writing it out in my journal, this is what rose to the top. What I’d felt all those years (whether through inadequate teaching or my own oversensitive conscience or personal woundings, I could not say) was this, that a judgmental, angry, hard-to-please God was demanding that His people be powerless, mindless, formless. In short, shapeless blobs.

I wrote it all out, holding it up to His gaze, presenting it for loving inspection. Repentance, I knew, meant a turning away. A turning FROM something, then turning TO.

And I wondered. What if that’s not what Papa wanted at all? What if He never wanted me to be mindless, unthinking, to erase all the traces of “me?” What if He wanted the person He’d made with His fingers, knitted with love in a womb?

What if He wanted to take the raw “me” and to transform it into something better, something stronger? More colorful, more fun? Something deeper, more tender? More brilliant and lovely and wise? Even sparkly?

Sitting there that day, the questions kept coming. Wouldn’t He have made us all identical if what He really wanted, what best glorified Him was shapeless, mindless blobs? Wasn’t His own personality so infinitely varied that it took all of us to reflect it? What of that?

And if every snowflake was different (and why would they matter?), then wouldn’t He delight in and fully intend for His kids to have an incomprehensible array of personalities, desires and giftings?

Wrestling with these questions, all at once came the picture. A beautiful, stained-glass window. In the darkness, it shone brightly, colors blazing, beams fractured, brilliant and warm in the night. And behind it, the light.

It was the light from within. Oh, the light did the work. The light brought the colors to life, made them shine. The window itself was cold, was dark, but the light–yes, the Light brought the Life.

Every window, different. All the colors, unique. Each pattern original and varied. Like us.

Yes, like us. We’re the windows (I saw it that day), He’s the Light. It was Him and His character, His personality infusing our own. We were powerless to do it, to clean ourselves up, to make ourselves holy and pure.

But He could do it. And He would when we turned in repentance, came running. And placed ourselves square in His hands. Papa’s smiling.

We’re stained-glass windows, you and I. We’re no two alike. Dark and colorless without our sweet Papa. We’re lit from within, all reflecting His love. Throwing colored beams, different pictures. Same light.

I’m nearing home, now. All at once, I see them. The tiny bits have turned to big, fluffy pieces. I lift my face, and snowflakes, all unique and one of a kind, float down like a thousand, thousand kisses from Papa, brushing my forehead and cheeks…

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