One thing we never think to ask is what someone’s first impression of us was at first meeting. That just seems either extremely presumptuous or like someone up-to-their-ears in "esteem-debt." All we can go on is what we perceive others have thought based on our interactions.
This may seem random, but I often think of humans as stained glass windows. From a distance, most of these vibrant works of art look very similar. Especially, the ones found in most traditional churches in the United States—tall, slender, gothic, arched point or conical top section, and of course, very colorful. While many have similar dimensional features and proportions, it takes coming closer in order to see the real differences. This is much the way we humans are. From a distance, our appearances are very similar to other humans, but move in and the finer details are apparent. And that’s just the outside. God made us all equally, but it’s what’s inside that really counts! Compared to our superficial exterior, our heart, soul, mind, and spirit are the ingredients that create a more drastic separation from our peers and makes us immeasurably unique. What you see is not necessarily what you get.
One of my favorite things to do is stand in church (both corporately and alone) and worship while the sunshine is streaming through stained glass. As I sing, the light spills over me and I'm painted with all the different colors and refractions. In many ways, this is how our lives are witness to the greatness of God’s abounding grace and love. When we allow God’s love to shine through our struggles, our testimony to others has the power to move minds and hearts. It's through our past hurts and trials that we can uniquely minister to those who have experienced similar pain. To take it further, God’s light shines through our own special story in such a way that others can see the beauty of how God Himself empowers and gifts His children to rise above all of life’s toil and anguish.
In a similar way to granting us a witness to His love, the Holy Spirit imbues all believers--the body of Christ--with gifts specially tailored to not only glorify God Himself and build up the church, but to serve the community and greater good. Ironically, the Holy Spirit also may choose to illuminate the natural gifts we may have had all along. Those same gifts, at one time or another, we may have even used when we once were God's enemies, He now will use for the purposes He foreknew in advance. Paul tells us through his letter to the Roman church:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Rm. 8:28-29, NLT).
It’s amazing how God has lovingly formulated each of our unique talents and skills so the church can work together, edifying each other, using both strengths and weakness to further the Kingdom of God.
As one gets closer to a stained glass window, it’s amazing how the combination of pieces and printing tell of a much greater story—a special story which can’t be told in the same way, through any other medium. It’s in this manner that the finer details of our stories are told. When the Light of Christ shines through our lives both individually and collectively, that testimony is broadcast as part of the most timeless narrative ever told--the GodStory. God created us to be exactly the person He intended, and through His foreknowledge of events and the various trials we would overcome, He knew the way in which He wanted to use them--good or bad--to bring His children back to Him. Whether we realize it or not, our lives are a magnificent continuation of the same Old and New Testament stories we encounter in Scripture. It’s through the kaleidoscope of our struggles that God’s light shines through and paints an astonishingly glorious picture from the perceived 'messiness' of our past. On this day, ask Christ to shed fresh new Light on the beautiful story your life longs to tell. Peace be with you!