Window Panes / The Kingdom of Glory
Around the time I stopped chasing butterflies, my family moved to a historic property near the Blue Ridge Mountains. Previously owned by a drunkard who let the house fall apart, it needed a total restoration – we spent a year painting the interior and exterior, ripping out carpets, and repairing hardwood floors. We cleared the fields of brush and landscaped the grounds. And it was beautiful. My, the restored property was beautiful. We polished it up while keeping an essence of the past. What we did not change was the windows. My mother loved the originals so we left them intact.
One night, I woke up to something like the sound of gunshots. Sitting up in my bed, I saw shards of glass layering the floor, illuminated by the moonlight. The shifting of the house’s foundation caused pressure changes within, and the old windows could not take it. All but three windows in the house shattered and needed replacement, and we removed them along with the damaged ones. (My dad installed screenless windows that I used as a sneak-out to stargaze many a night.)
Some time later, I discovered them in a corner of an old shed, regarded by a ray of sunlight that the dusty panes had not seen in years. They had an air of timelessness, a dignity about them that remained though they had been ripped from their proper places and were now sitting useless in a tumbledown shack. They had served a purpose in their time.
Purpose. Time. Two separate yet intertwined entities that are given to us. Sometimes I think about Noah and Abraham and other men from the early Old Testament, how they had several hundred years to live and seek and learn and love. In a way, it seems unfair. Today, most of us have under a hundred years to do all those things. The same struggles, desires, and the same purpose to fulfill, but only a fraction of their time for us to do so.
I used to wonder if there is a point of maximum efficiency in life. Peak effectiveness. I so much feared meaninglessness that I wanted measurements and statistics to tell me how to live. I wanted to know if a specific time could be nailed down when we’d realize it was too late to make things happen. When the reality of what could have been would explode in our faces.
Since then I have learned that living a purposeful life comes from purposeful moments, not from allowing the fear of being overtaken by time to drive me to self-orchestrated goodness. I can do no good and find no meaning on my own. Man is so weak, so incapable of creating anything eternal in his own strength. When we commit our work and sweat and blood to the glory of God, He picks up our nothings and makes them beautiful somethings. He gives us beauty for our ashes.
We can see this life as a ticking time bomb about to explode, or we can compare it to the tides, rising and falling. Waves pounding and receding. Seasons coming and fading.
The night is closing upon us, and soon the day shall break forth gloriously.