Since that cloudy day in Seattle when my mom and I entered St. James Cathedral, I have also visited other cathedral. I noticed something in each of the places...something that used to be a common sight in many churches: stained glass windows. Most of us are familiar with with these as beautiful works of art, each piece neatly fitting together to make a hand-crafted masterpiece. Men like Lewis Comfort Tiffany have even become famous for creating their own style of such incredible craftsmanship. Houses of worship typically hold these amazing displays, light streaming in from the outside to draw out the color of every single piece of glass.
Having seen these up close, it got me thinking about the fact that each of our lives resembles that of a stained glass window. Before Christ is in us, we are nothing more than a pile of broken pieces - incapable of being healed and restored and certainly far from resembling a picture of wholeness. Each part of us is misshapen, disconnected from the image of completeness that is true life. The jagged edges symbolize pain and when others try to touch the shattered fragments, they cut and poke with sharpness, piercing the warm flesh, undoing what is whole and well.
But then come the Hands that heal: the Hands that were pierced but once, which are so callous to the sharpness yet gentle and tender in every way. These Hands bring the Gospel to the poor, health to the broken-hearted, deliverance to the captives, sight to the blind, and liberty to the bruised (Luke 4:18). Into our mess of seemingly irreparable pieces, these Hands soothingly come to touch us, to make us well, to make us into something beautiful. With each stroke of His masterful creativity, we begin to be molded and shaped into a new image: His image. We are restored and perfected with every gesture He makes, into the one we were intended to be.
Unlike those whose works hang in the Washington Cathedral or Westminster Abby or any other cathedral in the world, once the repair has begun in our lives, it is never over - we are continually in a state of becoming changed individuals and yet, the Savior promises that what He has started in us, He will finish (Philippians 1:6). As the broken pieces are knit together into a transformed picture of Divine art, we are made to reflect the Light that brings us to life: a Light that comes from the outside and fills every crack of our existence. Thus, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
"...If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has
passed away, behold, the new has come."
No longer do we resemble a broken condition but a restored one. We go from being incomplete to being made whole, not of our own doing but of the Hands that created the world...the same Hands that created you and me.
So many stained glass windows tell a story: Moses and the Ten Commandments or St. George slaying the mighty dragon. So too also, as we see the Master-plan unfold and the pieces being returned to their glorified state, their created intent, we see a story appearing in our own masterpiece as well. Releasing our need for control in life isn't such a bad thing after all. Trying to put the pieces back together on our own only leads to more fragments, to a bad ending for an already messed up narrative. But, in letting go, we are allowed to see the bigger picture...the larger story that God is writing in our lives...and it is beautiful in every way!