2010-12-11 - Stained Glass
Encore from 2000-04-12
Psalm 51:10 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
During World War II, our bombers wreaked havoc over Europe, to help bring an end to the war. In a small village near an industrial plant, one of our bombs fell off-course and destroyed the village cathedral. After the war, the people of the village gathered any items that they had of any value and gave them to the pastor to sell in order to buy materials to rebuild their place of worship. A year passed, and the pastor hired an architect to draw up the plans for the new building. After the drawings were completed and the townspeople had given to the pastor everything but the bare necessities that they needed to live on, a contractor was hired to rebuild the cathedral.
The contractor was given a strict time frame in which to complete the building. He had no trouble finding brick masons, stonecutters, carpenters and other craftsmen to work on the project. However, he needed three stained glass artisans to complete the project on time, but could only find two in postwar Europe. One day a disheveled-looking little man came to the contractor and said he was a stained glass artisan and had heard the contractor needed a third worker. The contractor scoffed at the little man with tattered clothes, unkempt hair and a rough face covered with stubble of a beard: "You? You are a stained glass artisan?" "Yes," replied the little man with a smile. "Not only that, I will work for three meals a day and a place to sleep at night. When my window is finished, and if you and the townspeople approve of it, then pay me the same rate of pay that you are paying the other two artisans." The contractor felt like he could not lose, and he agreed to the man's requests. As the little man was leaving, he asked for one more item. "Could you put a curtain around the window where I will be working? I don't like people watching me work." "Sure, okay," replied the contractor. He asked the man's name, but the man said his name was not important.
Months went by, and the building rose from the ashes. Every morning the little man would speak to the other two stained glass men and then quietly go behind his curtain to work. As the contractor's deadline neared, he grew more and more nervous about what the window would look like, or if it would even be finished on time.
Finally the day came for the townspeople to inspect their new cathedral. The contractor showed off the fine woodwork, the precision-cut stones, the glistening marble and then moved over to the first two stained glass windows. The beauty of their new church home astounded the people. A quiet hush fell over the building as they approached the curtain covering the third window. All they heard was the tapping of a hammer. The contractor barked out, "Are you finished yet?" The little man tapped his hammer one last time and said, "Sure, take the curtain down!"
There before the people was the most magnificent, most wonderful, most elegant and most beautiful stained glass window anyone had ever seen. Tears welled up in their eyes as they admired the craftsmanship and the pure beauty of the glass used to make the window. The contractor was relieved to see the astonishing work. He asked the little man for his name again. Yet once more, the little man said his name was not important. Then the contractor asked him if he could at least tell them were he got the glass to make the window. It was far superior to all the glass in the other two windows. "Sure," replied the little man. "Every morning as I talked to the other two workers, I would reach down into their trash barrels and take out the broken, unwanted pieces of glass. I used those discarded pieces to make my window."
That is just a story, but it is a story that has a lot of meaning to me. It is my story, it is the story of some of you, and it's a story that someday will have meaning for others of you. It is a story that tells how God, working through others, can take whatever you have become and make you whole again. It does not matter how shattered, broken or discarded you feel, nor does it matter what sins you have committed. He can put you back together in a far superior manner than you alone can.
So who are you in the story? Are you feeling like a discarded piece of glass that will never amount to anything? Perhaps you are the skeptical contractor, not believing that something can be made of what seems to be nothing? Maybe you are one of the townspeople, giving all you can to help rebuild other people's lives. Perhaps you are like the other two stained glass artisans. Your life is acceptable, but maybe you have become complacent. You stopped striving to be the very best. Maybe you are the almost-completed window, and God is taping the final pieces into place, crafting you even more into the image of the greatest Masterpiece ever, Jesus. I don't know who you are, but I do know that if you will let Him, God is not going to stop working on you, and He will never give up on you until you become all that He intends for you to become.
Father, thank You for the Master Craftsman, who gave all of Himself, so that we can become all that You want us to become. Thank You for the people that You place in our lives to help us pick up the broken pieces. Keep molding us and shaping us in Your image, not ours. In Christ's name, Amen.
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