Windows to the World
In my travels, I’ve made a game of snapping photos of doors and windows. I find the variety absolutely fascinating. They give me windows to the world by showcasing cultures and styles of architecture predominant in a given place. What vivid object lessons!
From the exterior, you can note the size and shape of a window and the type of framing—wood, tile, stone or brick. In many countries, you’ll see shutters, bars, and balconies. You can get a feel for popular colors and materials, for individual tastes, and even for the botany of the area via the plants spilling from the windowboxes.
“A short story is what you see when you look out of the window.” ~Mavis Gallant
More interesting still, I often imagine what lies behind the window. And what might I see from the inside out? Sometimes looking out on the world is more important than looking in. But wherever I gaze, inside or out, I see a story.
Today we’re continuing last week’s reflections on perspective. I looked out the above arched window at the Palafito Azul in Castro, Chiloé, while writing Return to Chiloé, my recently released devotional memoir about a trip to Chile’s southern islands. (Thanks to those friends who have read and/or reviewed it here!)
“Two men look out a window. One sees mud, the other sees the stars.” –Oscar Wilde
The scene here reminds me of how I imagine the character Leonel’s workshop in Legacy of the Linnebrink Light. From various points of view, you can see a grungy tidal flat, a rustic waterfront neighborhood, or even an historic icon. It looks different yet again under the lights and mist of evening.
As I wrote Destiny at Dolphin Bay and (upcoming) Pursuit of the Pudú Deer, I kept in mind the watercolor featured last week, painted by a visitor to our home in Chiloé many years ago. The picturesque charm enchants and fills me with nostalgia.
Yet if you could glance out another window to this world, you’d discover more than dark clouds and weeds. You’d see the driveway paved with clamshells and sheep’s dung, the pig pen, and the row of squatters’ shacks in the next lot. If you could know everything that went on in those sometimes-sordid streets, perhaps you’d have an altogether different angle on the place.
Look closer still, look behind the threadbare curtains, look beneath the peeling paint. You’ll find bread and potatoes and mate, shared around a fire, and served with an unbeatable sense of humor.
When we hear, “Look!” how seldom we really see. We turn and flick an aimless glance out our window. We scan, skim, or peruse listlessly; we may even stare, gawk, or rubberneck. But do we observe and meditate with our minds as well as our eyes?
Often we confuse looking and seeing. We can appear to look at something without seeing it at all. How often we see what we want to see and understand the way we chose to or the way we always have. We see exactly what we’re looking for, what we expect.
What are you looking for? What do you seek out of your window? Today I’m asking God to open my eyes, the windows of my soul, to the world around me, visible and invisible. “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things…” (Ps 119:18, NASB).
Droplet Gift #43: I will look through His eyes and see the world as Jesus sees it.
I find two problems with our spiritual vision. On the one hand, we fail to appreciate what’s right outside our everyday windows. Or we choose to ignore what we’d rather not see.
Some of you may remember my disappointment when we moved to our current home and the neighbor built a wall which almost completely blocks our ocean view. Almost, not quite. The other evening, I watched a spectacular summer sunset from a corner of the deck, wondering why I so seldom bother.
Because it’s more of an effort. I have to stand and crane my neck. What a temptation to look out and wish I were somewhere else, anywhere but here.
On the other hand, we often remain completely oblivious of the invisible.
I’m reminded of my grandson’s Minecraft “home.” He tells me he lives underground and then proceeds to explain the scenery from his windows on the world. 😊 Don’t I wish I possessed that kind of vision!
Perhaps imagination leads me to pull up a YouTube video of a Paris café on my TV screen. I can see the Eiffel Tower out my “window” just now.
“In seeing God, we will see everything else clearly, for the first time.” –Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good
In spite of everything that’s wrong in the world—sin and suffering, brutality, corruption, and greed—I have to seek the wider view with the prophet Isaiah. At the worst of times, he could look ahead, past the empty wastelands of life, and “…see the glory of the Lord” to “encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble; say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come…’” (Is. 35:1-3, NASB).
Let’s look—and SEE what God is doing on our planet, right now, in our culture and contemporary history. It may take reflection and scrutiny. It’s not always apparent.
But He is working in lives, in our time, in our place. What do you see God doing outside your window?
Perhaps we confuse seeking with finding, too. The Bible talks a lot about intentional seeking and pursuing:
- “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mt. 6:33)
- “…They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing” (Ps. 34:10b)
- “…Seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14b)
- “Seek the Lord and His strength…” (Ps. 105:4a)
- “How blessed are those who…seek Him with all their heart” (Ps. 119:2)
- “…Those who diligently seek (wisdom) will find me” (Prov. 8:17)
- “,,,Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is…” (Col. 3:1)
Isaiah the prophet foretells the glorious reign of the “branch” (descendent) of Jesse—Jesus. “Him shall the nations seek” (11:10).
Whether they realize it or not, people at every window in every nation of the world are seeking Jesus. The Greek visitors’ request of the disciple Philip, “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn. 12:21), echoes down through the ages.
It’s Jesus we want to see! We believe we’re looking for many other things. We dream, search, pursue our goals, often without ever seeing that He is the One we seek. He’s the ultimate destination.
“Never hesitate to open new windows in your life!” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan
The root of the word “seek” means, strangely, to dawdle. Funny, when it feels like just the opposite. “Seek” seems to hold a sense of urgency and drive. But what we’re supposed to do when we seek is slow down, take a deep breath, and focus. Seeking gives us an opportunity to stop for a while and just linger in Jesus’s presence.
Loiter, if you will. Hang out with Him long enough to figure out what matters in the heavenly perspective of things, what has eternal value in the view from His windows to the world.
“Not everyone sees the sign (to Jesus),” Eugene Peterson writes, “and…not everyone who sees it seeks it” (As Kingfishers Catch Fire). I may miss Him completely. And just because I notice a sign doesn’t mean I will decide to head in that direction. Possibly I will ignore every whisper and hint along on my way.
And furthermore, not everyone finds what they seek. I will have to commit to pursue Him with my whole heart. And open my eyes to recognize His presence when it so often lies beyond my window on the world. Outside my physical view.
But there we discover the great rewards:
- “Seek the Lord while He may be found…” (Is. 55:6)
- “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13)
- “…He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6)
You remember the patriarch Job who, after losing everything, was forced to listen to long harangues from his so-called friends on their flawed perceptions of God—and him.
One magnified Job’s misfortunes to celebrate his own good luck. He had all the answers. But the true opposite of this black-and-white viewpoint isn’t fifty shades of gray but God’s glorious Technicolor.
Another friend gazed in awe at what had happened and launched into a rant on philosophical theories unconnected with reality. He had no end of big ideas, but not a single solid answer.
The third viewed the godly life as simple as keeping the rules. He felt it was his duty to set everybody straight. One easy answer fits all. Perhaps, but only if it’s the right answer.
Nobody—least of all, Job—saw the truth or knew anything about it. However, God gives us a glimpse from His windows to the world at the beginning of the book: Job had fallen under spiritual attack from Satan.
Finally, God steps into the picture…
Not with solutions but with questions that offer a different perspective on everything. The right answer was and always is: See God. Seek God.
“…When trouble comes, when doubt gnaws at our innards, when anxiety threatens, then only God himself will do” –Eugene Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire
Obviously Job’s friends’ windows looked out on a mudflat. They saw the dirt and the dark side, our human inclination to evil. Never the lights nor the vibrant colors nor our potential for redemption. Not surprisingly, they never found God either. Job ended up praying for them.
There’s so much we don’t see and have no idea about. The prophet Elisha was once surrounded by an army of countless enemies. When his servant cried out in terror, Elisha said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17, NASB).
A multitude of God’s hosts also packed the mountains around them. Invisible, but no less real. We find our answers in opening our eyes and looking through His eyes.
“When life closes a door, God opens a window.” ~Paul Smith
Maybe more of my windows to the world would encourage and intrigue you. If you have one you’d like to share, please contact me.
Lord, don’t take me home until…I see with Your eyes a new vision of the world.