I find the week after New Year’s somewhat sad with all the marvelous Christmas decorations coming down. Particularly I miss the outdoor light displays. During the season I enjoy driving at night and seeing some of the elaborate displays.
While I enjoy the flashing lights, inflatables, and houses with glowing brilliance, I also favor the simple displays. One house in particular has candles displayed in each window and spotlights illuminating the wreaths adorning the windows. I find the simplicity enchanting and enjoy that house more than the grandiose displays.
Last Christmas season during the Sunday School discussion someone commented that since Jesus was a window to God, we followers of Christ are windows to God.
The simple displays of these candles in the windows reminded me of that comment and I thought about windows. I don’t often think about windows. And that’s probably as it should be.
Windows are not intended to draw attention to themselves. When I admire the simple candles illuminating my ‘favorite’ home I accept the basic purpose of a window – to allow something to pass through it. In the case of candles that is light.
This is such a basic concept. Without conscious thought we interact with our windows within the framework of light. In the morning we open the curtains to permit the light to illuminate our houses. At night we close the blinds so that the light within our houses does not reveal what is going on inside.
Yet more than mere light passes our windows. Refracted light displays the colors of the grass, flowers, clouds, and passers-by.
Windows also permit the passage of air. On pleasant days we open the windows to catch the gentle breezes and the fragrance of flowers, freshly mown grass, or a gentle rain. But when the rain intensifies the windows close to keep the unwanted from our house.
Sound also enters (as well as exits) via our windows. We enjoy the pleasant chirping of birds and the background hum of activity. Even the occasional honk of a horn. And yet on New Year’s Eve we close our windows in futility against the bombardment of fireworks.
So we try to keep our windows in good order and so ensure they function as we’d like. Sometimes that isn’t so easy. I heard of a couple who moved into a new home and the woman complained to her husband how dingy her neighbor’s laundry looked when it dried on the old fashioned clothes line. That is until one day she commented to her husband that the neighbor must have found a new detergent. “No.” Her husband said. “I washed our windows.”
That is the biggest challenge for windows to keep their primary function. Dirt does not normally cover a window pane quickly. Gradually, speck by speck, dust and grime accumulates until the pristine transparency of the window is lost. So, if we neglect our windows, frequently we end up with a big washing job (as in spring cleaning).
The same applies to us. If as my friend suggested we are windows to God, we need to keep our windows as clear as possible. I know for myself many little things can accumulate over time so that the image of God in my life becomes obscured. Things like pride, laziness, envy, the need to be right, using humor to put others down, ridicule, selfishness, and pouting. I’m confident many of you could add you own foibles to this list.
If, as my church friend says, I am to be a window to God, how does this develop in my life? I need first remember it is not all about me. As a Christ follower I want others to look through me and see the God who loves them. As a window transmits light, color, and fragrance, I desire to transmit the multifaceted wonder of God to all who are around me.
I accomplish this two ways. First, by cultivating my personal God-wonder. For too much of my life I strove to know about God. I accumulated facts, books, and the “correct” doctrine. It was as if, deep down, I believed the more I knew the more I could confine Him and somehow control the Uncontrollable. Now, it may be a symptom of maturation, or, more likely, the futility of confining God to my understanding, I desire for and orient my life to developing an ever deepening intimacy with God. Discovering the multi-faceted wonder of God is the penultimate foundation for showing that wonder to others.
So closely connected (as to be inseparable) to deepening intimacy with God is deepening self-awareness. Encountering God shows me both how I am like Him as well as how different we are. As I grow in understanding I realize how much God loves me and from that love I respond with a deep desire to minimize those actions that accentuate how different I am from God’s ideal love.
It’s like cleaning the windows. The more frequently I connect with God, through prayer, meditation, reading, and service, the less challenging I find self-reflection and the need for dramatic efforts at change.
And that is the challenge. As a window needs frequent cleaning, so I too need frequent soul cleaning.
That way I can be a Christmas Window all year long.