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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: Open windows

Man, it sure is hot out there!  Somebody ought to open a window!  Only problem with that is the hot July temperature, which is getting quite dangerous.  Heat wave across most of the United States, they say on the radio.

Former Congressman John Kasich, the current governor of Ohio, in his book “Every Other Monday,” spoke of a critical time in his life when his mother and father were in a tragic automobile accident.  He had, like many of us, drifted away from church and faith as a young adult.

He was speaking with his priest about the pain and anger he was feeling, and the priest gave him this insight.  “John, you’ve got an opportunity here.  I don’t know where you are vis-à-vis your eternal existence, but your parents’ death has opened up a window, and you’ve got to decide if you want to go through that window.  In time, the window will close, but it’s open now.  Wide open.  In time, this pain will ease, and you’ll go back to the rest of your life, but while you’re here, while it’s open, why not peek through and see what’s missing in your life these past several years?”

These windows usually open during difficult times in our lives.  Without faith, we look at them as just difficult times.  With faith, and the insight God can bring, they can become the most blessed opportunities of our time on earth.

It is hot out there in many ways, and I’m not talking about the temperature.  People are dangerously close to missing out on the clear and wonderful relationship with God, which is just within reach at certain moments.  They don’t see the opportunity to turn that stumbling block into a stepping stone.

Countless people, sometimes even saints who stand at the window of God every day, don’t look through.  They are at a dead end, a moment when they still look with human eyes and fail to see what God wants to show them.  They go on with ordinary lives as before, never taking advantage of the miracles and blessings God wants to give them.

It is hard to grow in faith without difficult times.  In fact, those are the times we grow the most.

The other day, I said to a friend that people who live charmed lives, who never have difficulty or pain, often have a surface-level faith.  Without the chariots of Pharaoh chasing us down, we never will get to see the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea.

Don’t get me wrong.  Wishing tragedy upon people is not my intent.

But open windows in the midst of the moment, now that’s quite another subject. 

If you had to summarize my job as pastor, it would be to help people get from where they are to where they need to be in the faith department.  The real tragedy is that many are quite comfortable and missing out on the breath of God and the miracles of walking with risen Lord Jesus.

Church doesn’t make sense to non-Christians.  Why would we spend our time and money for church activities when we could use them for our own enjoyment?

But when you see the church as the blessed body of Christ on earth, knowing that saving souls and living for others is the most important thing to do, a window opens up.  Spinning our wheels looking for the perfect church can be a full-time occupation.

But serving in the place where the Bible is treated as the word of God, where people are sincere in walking together in faith no matter what, now that’s a window that opens toward heaven.

Kasich said that this open-window time was a real turning point for him.  He returned to Washington committed to discovering where he stood with God and his eternal destiny.  He was to rediscover God “not in a Band-Aid sort of way… but as a sustaining, nurturing force” in his life.

There is a time limit to these heavenly windows, you know.  If we don’t take advantage of the opportunity in moments of difficulty, we will go back to the regular lives we had before.  The window will close, and for some will never open again.

Why not peek through and see what we’ve been missing all these years?  Why not see the moment God gives us right now as what God intended it, as Christ our Lord steps into every darkness to make it light.

Open windows can happen regularly in times of worship, Bible study, reading and conversations with other Christians.  Good insights, miracles, God’s grace being made real.

But the windows which open before us in the midst of life, in the time between the Sundays, make us ready to go and worship, serve, grow, love, forgive and heal.  Do not blow the opportunities, those major open-window events God has in mind for us all.