A light within

blogimg_2441As long as I can remember, I’ve gazed at them.

And their beauty hasn’t faded after all of these years. They grace the walls of my church.

I grew up in a rural area outside of a small town and from birth until my marriage,  I attended and belonged to one church.  A simple, white clapboard country church. The same church where my parents were members as their parents before them.

Actually, my family history on my paternal grandmother’s side dates back to the very beginning of that church almost 200 years ago. Family ancestors were two of the eight founding members in 1820.

Once while researching the history of my church, I uncovered a copy of a 1941 church directory with all kinds of information included. What fascinating reading it made, seeing in print the positions members of my family – now long gone – held in that church, reading about all the activities going on, and seeing a membership roll that neared 500 souls.  

The history of my church is one of the things I love about it.  I also love my fellow believers there.  I love my pastor who encourages and, at the same time, challenges us each Sunday morning with messages straight from God’s Holy Word.  

I love that when I step inside that church building, I feel like I belong there.  

And there is one more thing I love about my church. Adorning each wall of the sanctuary are the most resplendent stained glass windows – a fancy thing for such a simple country church not made of stone or brick.

As long as I can remember, those windows have graced the church sanctuary. I’ve always loved the brilliantly colored glass depicting symbols of Christianity and renditions of the way the church building appeared in days gone by.

Sitting in a pew in my church on a Sunday morning, singing songs of praise to my God, hearing His Word as it speaks to my heart, I notice the sun shining through those windows and it brings even more joy to my soul.

It’s like God’s love is pouring down from heaven through those sunbeams lighting up the sparkling panes of colored glass.

From the outside of my church, those stained glass windows don’t appear to be that spectacular. But inside is a different story. Inside, when light radiates through them, those windows become incandescent and brilliant.   

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Although it is God’s House, the actual building that houses my church with these magnificent windows is just that – it’s just a building.

What makes a church a true place to worship the Lord isn’t the building, it’s what is practiced, preached, and believed inside and outside of that building.

The church is not a private club. The church is truly believers, people like you and me, the hands and feet of Jesus.  Believers who go outside the church to share the gospel message, to give help and aid to those who are needy, to reach out to those who are hurting, to show others in words and deeds what it means to be saved by the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

All of this reminds me that on the outside, things may look glum, even dreary, much like how the outer stained glass windows appear on my church building. But when the light of belief in a Savior shines through, perspective changes amazingly.

I hope when folks view my outer countenance, they may see a radiant stained glass window revealed by the light within me which only comes from my Savior.

And I must take that light and shine it outside the walls of my church building.

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Windows for my soul

blogIMG_2416I love windows.  I love to look out of them.  As I’ve shared before, opening the blinds and looking out the window is one of the first things I do every morning when I awaken.  I love it when light streams in a window and when a cool, refreshing breeze blows through an open one.

Windows provide the sensation of space, light and airiness that makes a room less claustrophobic.  Yes, I love windows!  And I’m happy that I have so many in our country home.

So ever since I read that this week’s photo challenge was “windows,” I’ve been inundated with thoughts about why I enjoy windows so very much.  I’ve taken a number of window pictures which are stored in my photo cache, but this challenge necessitated a trip down my country road today.

Because I knew exactly which windows I wanted to capture for this challenge.

Almost every Sunday, I take my seat next to my husband in a simple wooden pew at my local country church.  This isn’t just any church, it is my family church.  Way back in the 1800’s, my great-great grandparents were two of the eight founding members and they donated the land for the church to be built upon.

blogIMG_2444So not only is this church special because it’s where I choose to honor, praise, and serve God, it’s special because my family has worshipped in this place for 184 years.  It’s a simple place really.  It’s not made of stone or brick and the design is not significant architecture.  But there is something about my church that gives it exquisite beauty – its stained glass windows.

Every Sunday while our congregation sings praises to our Lord and hears a message from our pastor, I gaze at those stained glass windows that are featured on every outside wall of the sanctuary.  When sunlight streams through them, those windows actually seem to glow and I’m drawn to them and the messages that are depicted within them.  There is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  There is the Bible, God’s Holy Word and the Ten Commandments.  And there is the lamb reminding me that Christ is the sacrificial Lamb of God.

From the outside looking in, the windows don’t look that spectacular.  They look muted and dull as the day was today when I photographed them in spitting snow, cold wind, and overcast skies.

But oh, from the inside!  What a different story.  As I entered the sanctuary, the windows’ beauty in the dimmed light really seemed breathtaking.  It was as if there was an inner light somewhere shining through the panes of colored glass and intricate designs.

There’s an old saying that the eyes are the windows to our souls.  And that reminds me of scripture: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”  Matthew 6:22-23

blogIMG_2434Folks may look at my outside and not be impressed.  On the outside I’m not beautiful or stunning.  I may appear as dull and plain as my church windows seem on the outside.  But what do I want people to see when they look into my eyes – the windows into my soul?  I want them to see the Light of the World – Jesus in me.  I want my window eyes to be filled with light and color and the radiating beauty of a Savior, just like those stained glass windows adorning the inside of my church.

Because truly what is important to me is not what’s on the outside of the window, it’s what can be seen on the inside.

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  ~  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com