Christ and the Apostles, Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co. c. 1890, Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass at the Navy Pier, Chicago IL, Image Wikimedia Commons
I love Louis Comfort Tiffany’s (1848-1933) stained glass windows. Once you have seen one, you will find the style very easy to detect and he will show up in the most surprising places. His windows have adorned such celebrated halls as the White House during the time of Chester Arthur; been the talk of the town in Mark Twain’s massive home in Hartford CT and quietly glorified the sanctuary of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton VA, to name just a few.
But it wasn’t until recently that I spent some time reading a little about why his windows are so remarkable. It seems that when Louis Tiffany began his work in the art of stained glass, he was forced to use cheap jelly jars which was considered unsuitable by the more established glass artisans of his time. Through this apparent hardship, Louis Tiffany discovered that these inferior materials created an opalescent quality to his glass that allowed him a greater range of variety and color. Imagine that….greater beauty out of inferior materials…now where have I heard that before:)
Isn’t this the way it is with God? He uses our imperfections to create a kingdom of infinite beauty and variety. It is through our weaknesses that he does his greatest work as he shines the light of his love through our hard places and molds us into something remarkable.
But often times I am spending so much time trying to hide my flaws that I never look up to celebrate how far I have come and I worry that those around me are really so much more accomplished….I am running from behind and I just can’t catch up. And so, I become fixated on numbers:
- How many friends I have….
- How much money I earn…
- The amount I have on my credit card…
- The number I see on the bathroom scales…
And I find myself running in circles and comparing myself to others and their numbers.
Instead God’s way is that we should “love one another” not compete with each other.
So what does this look like and how do we create this kind of beauty in our lives?
We learn to show compassion for those around us because we see that we all have our own set of flaws and imperfections. And we trust that God is working to refine each in his own time.
So as you consider the image above…think about the kind of people Jesus favored during his ministry. The inner circle he gathered around him and remember that it is in our vulnerability we become the most Christ like.
“We are happy when someone succeeds because we are free from selfish jealousy–or we may even choke with tears at their sorrows because in compassion we feel their griefs as our own….this create in us the climate of heaven so that our spirits open and ascend to the presence of God”
Bernard of Clairvaux
Prayer: Our Father, who lives in us, who walks with us through our pain… help us this week to show you are weaknesses. For how can you heal a wound we do not admit we have? And help us to see how those around us are all struggling with their own burdens. Help us to carry each other’s burdens even for a short time and celebrate each other’s victories.
God bless you as you live and work this week.