The Broken Pieces of a Stained Glass Window

This week I am featuring the writings of Candra J. Fiorini, my youngest of two daughters. Candra is a professional counselor. Believe me it’s always good to have Candra and her skills close to my life.

Ever dropped something made of glass? Come on. In all truthfulness pretty much everyone has the typical glass breaking trauma story. Mine may or may not have something to do with the Rodenbush’s butter dish…or I guess I should say, former butter dish. The bad thing about glass breaking is that you can’t put it back the way it was. After you have shattered something on the kitchen floor, it isn’t exactly possible to simply put it back together. Once broken, there is no going back.

Ever felt much like that broken glass? Lying on the floor, shattered in dozens of pieces. Unfixable. Permanently damaged. Past the point of hope. Perhaps you now feel as though you are broken into hundreds of tiny pieces, and you will never be put back together into one whole piece again. The situation is a Mission Impossible, a dying cause. Or so you think. What if all your concepts are wrong? You see, for the most part, the breaking of glass is always viewed as a bad thing, when in reality it can be very good. 

In the Middle Ages, a new art form became popular and has carried through even till today—the fine art of the stained glass window. I don’t know how much you know about stained glass windows, but I Googled them and everything, so I am now quite the expert. For all of you less informed in the art, stained glass windows start out as panes of glass that must be broken into pieces. Actually, more specifically, they aren’t broken at all, but rather, cut to fit a specific design. The glass isn’t stained but painted in great detail by the master’s hand.

“For I know the thoughts that I have towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God had a specific plan for you. The blueprint is already made; the end of your story written. Now, here is the thing. What if all the things we have been through, all the trials, heartbreaks, failures, and disappointments, what if all the things that left you broken, what if they didn’t leave you broken at all? Perhaps, it was the Lord cutting, shaping, and molding you to fit his master plan. What if the things that you thought left you broken, useless, and stained, were actually the Lord shaping and cutting you into the masterpiece He always intended you to be?

Romans 8: 28-30 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and who he called, them he has also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

First of all, “all things work together for good to them that love God.” I think a lot of the time we can interpret that incorrectly. It does not say that everything will always be good, that we won’t have problems, or pain, or suffering. It says that if we love God and are called, He will take all of those things and use them for your good.

Secondly, “to them who are called according to His purpose.” How many of you feel like God has placed a calling on your life?  Ever feel like you have been called and things have gone on, and mistakes have been made, and you feel disqualified a bit from your calling?  Well, that isn’t what my Bible says. My Bible says that as long as you love the Lord and are called, He had a plan for you before you were even born. He already knew the end of you story as well as the beginning and middle. And He justified your past. Therefore, he knew long before you were born how things were going to turn out and He has already taken care of it.

The last component of a stained glass window is the glue or mortar that puts all the pieces back. It comes along and fills in all the cracks. It is the finishing, the thing that holds our world together. Our strength when we are weak, our comfort when we are weary, our help in time of, He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is Daystar, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Wonder, Great I am, and Counselor.  His name is Jesus; the glue that completes the puzzle of His master plan for your life. Without the last component, you can do nothing. If you step out His will and purpose, you become nothing more than little broken pieces of glass. His master plan for your life has to contain both you and Him. Without both, the plan cannot succeed.

The pain may be great, though the process may not be pleasant, but if you will just submit yourself to His master plan and allow Him to be the glue that hold your world together, the end result may just stun the world with its beauty. And don’t you find it interesting that the most intricate stained glass windows are the ones that must be broken/cut the most? Surrender to His plan, follow His will, stick to Jesus in the process, and know that the end result is going to be simply beautiful. Allow Jesus to fill in the cracks of your life and shape you into His masterpiece.

I Still Remember the Rain

Rain today has loosened a flood of memories. Sitting here at the office, the blinds are open, and outside the rain is cascading down. In Africa, the rainy season was always my favorite time of year while living in West Africa for twenty-eight years. We experienced two seasons: dry and wet or we would commonly say, “Hot and very hot!” During the rains, temperatures would drop to comfortable levels of coziness. The major disadvantage here is I usually feel like I need window-shield wipers on my classes.

I still remember teaching in the Bible school in Nigeria and the sound of torrential rains beating down on the metal roof. It cooled temperatures and brains at the same time since you couldn’t hear me teach over the welcomed noise.

I still remember Candra, our youngest, as a little girl, outside, with an umbrella, rain pelleting, and us singing, “Raindrops keep falling on my head…”

I still remember, with our girls much older, occasionally reenacting the whole scene with the three of us rushing out into the yard in the bucketing rain. We ended up refreshed and looking like the proverbial drowned rats.

I still remember the rains falling and collecting enough pressure to force down the protective wall next to our house and flooding into our driveway.

Dirtied gutters in our city would overflow as rains would unclog and forcefully wash debris away. Nothing could withstand the power of the rain.

I still remember our Sheaves for Christ vehicle swishing through rain-made road-rivers and lakes. SFC vehicles, like Star Trek, going where no man had ever gone before, conquering new territories, and forging new paths.

Rain. Refreshing. Reviving. Renewing. Revitalizing.

Cold. Calming. Cleansing. Covering.

I still remember going down into the cold, cleansing waters of baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. My sins washed away! Forever.

I still remember receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost and times of refreshing that came from the presence and power of the Lord.

I still remember failing, faltering, falling and the cleansing feeling of genuine repentance.

“Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! (Psalms 51:2, AMP).

I’ve got a River of Life falling down on me, flooding me, and flowing through me. Like the songwriter said, “I feel the rain.”

I still remember the rain!

Dreams Developed in Darkness, Launched into the Light

Joseph is a fantastic example of someone that trusted God during difficult dilemmas. He held tenaciously to his God-given and God-ordained dream. It took twenty-two years, but God brought it to pass. Joseph faithfully served God despite it all.

Received his life-altering God-sized dream at seventeen. Spent thirteen years in slavery and prison. Ruled Egypt seven years during the good times. Ruled Egypt for two years in famine. Then his brothers came and bowed down to him (Genesis 42:6; 43:26).

Through it all he kept his primary focus on God and not on his circumstances. Whether in the pit, Potiphar’s house, or prison, he always lifted up his eyes to God:

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:1-2).

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

He refused to focus on his afflictions, trials, or problems. And God allowed him to advance in adversity.

“And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).

He was totally convinced that God was in control (Genesis 50:20). God was sovereign. In everything, he understood that God did so-very-reign (sovereign).

God gave him a dream. We misguidedly muse there will be an instantaneous and unobstructed path from promise to performance. That seldom, if ever happens. Instead, the way is seemingly disorderly yet divinely directed with twists and turns. The seeming delay is hard for us to understand in our microwave society of instant gratification and answers. At times, God allows us to pass through slow cooker situations. He keeps us over the fire perfecting us. We will come forth as gold. Like, Joseph, the Lord can give us success in whatever we do, whatever, whenever, and wherever He leads us.

Joseph remembered, and you should, too, that a God-given dream placed in a dedicated heart is destined to come to pass. You see dreams don’t die in darkness, that’s where they are developed, and their fulfillment will undoubtedly come to light.

Benefits and Resources in the Desert Places

It is in desolate, desert times that one can find a place where:

  • One can encounter God.
  • One can see how God provides.
  • One wrestles with and conquer temptations (Luke 4).
  • In separation and loneliness one can enjoy close fellowship with God.
  • One can hear clearly the voice of God.
  • God proves Himself. He is able (Ephesians 3:20).
  • God shows forth His power and provision. Both are abundant and overflowing.
  • God takes another opportunity to show His love for us (Song of Solomon 2:4).
  • God spreads a table in the midst of all that threatens.

What spiritual resources do you need in your desert?

  • Is it provision? “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:8). “Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That’s where we get the saying, ‘On the mountain of God, he sees to it’” (Genesis 22:14, MSG). “And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided’” (NKJV).
  • Is it Healing? “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26, NKJV). “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2).
  • Is it deliverance from a problem? “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears” (Psalms 34:4, NASU). “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.  Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident” (Psalms 27:1-3, ESV).
  • The baptism of the Holy Ghost to fill your thirsty soul? “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. ‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39, NASU).
  • Is it salvation in a weary land to the nomadic (wandering) lost? “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” (Matthew 11:28-30, NASU).
  • Is it to do the impossible and improbable? “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
  • Is it to supply your needs? “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Dinner in the Desert

Dinner in the Desert

My thought today is built around a question. I’m not the first to ask it. I won’t be the last. “Can God prepare a banquet in the desert?” (Psalms 78:19, God’s Word Translation). And don’t tell me you have never asked it. “Can God provide in my poverty?” “Does God care in my calamity?” “Can God turn my hopelessness into hope?” “Can life and laughter spring forth from my dreadful, dilemma?” “Can God turn my pity into a party?” Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes! I can hear a resounding, deafening “Yes!” Where is the proof?

Given the pick the last place one would likely want to live is a desert. It is usually a dull, depressing, dismal, dark, dry, deadly, dusty, dirty, desolate, despondent, drifting, place; deficient of moisture, plant and animal life. Add to that it is flat, featureless, and full of fear. It doesn’t stop there. The desert is mostly hot; hostile, and horrific. Sandstorms and sadistic storms decrease visibility and increase hopelessness.  Its sad status boasts of supporting very little life, is lifeless, and lonely limited to wandering, homeless nomads. It is an empty, eerie environment. 

The largest hot desert in the world is the Sahara, in Northern Africa, covering over nine million kilometers and twelve countries. What a waste! One third of the earth’s mass is desert.

There is hope, however, in the desert. Animals, plants, and people do learn to survive. The desert contains great amounts of valuable, usable, mineral resources spread over their entire surface.

At times, we find, falter, or fall into a spiritual desert experience. It is an opportunity for us to grow stronger gleaning from the spiritual resources prepared for us. It is here in the midst of all the negatives that God turns the table. Words shift to able, available, abundant, overflowing, rushing, supply. Not only does He turn the table, He prepares it.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love”

(Song of Solomon 2:4, ESV). I’ve heard that little song for years and have never really understood what is meant. Now, I have a better understanding.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage. You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end” (Psalms 23; God’s Word Translation).

“Parable of the Great Feast: Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, ‘What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!’ Jesus replied with this story: ‘A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready’” (Luke 14:15-17, NLT).

Dinner is ready.