Open Windows

Blind Faith (No. 17, 2015)
Weekly Devotional for April 23, 2015
Open Windows

Open window season has been in place for a couple of weeks now.
At least temperate – if not outright warm – afternoons and tolerable
overnight temperatures prod us to open our windows for several weeks every
spring and fall. (Sorry, allergy sufferers, that you do not get to enjoy
such pleasures!) Adjusting blinds and shades, insuring sufficient
cross-ventilation, and employing fans to supplement pleasant breezes
contribute to the comfort level while the windows are open and the furnace
and air conditioner are turned off.

Our house was built in 1961, and the windows are
state-of-the-art for that era of home construction. The double-sash divided
light (multi-pane) windows are clad with double-sash storm windows with
screens. The storm windows offer considerable protection from blasts of
frigid winter winds and reduce the amount of heated air inevitably escaping
through windows 50+ years old. When the storm windows are closed in
summertime, precious air conditioning is more efficiently contained in the
house. Tightly closed and latched windows and storm windows can work
together to increase safety and comfort for people in the house.

But, O, the joy of opening the windows and storm windows! IN
both winter and summer, the double layer of glass muffles the sounds of the
outside world. With the windows open a far richer symphony of life is heard.
We can hear water dripping 2 stories from the rain gutters to the bottom of
the downspout any time of year. But with the windows open the staccato
draining of spring torrents is much sharper, boldly announcing that flowers
and foliage and fruit are to come. We hear subdued versions of bird songs
when the windows are closed. But with the windows open we hear subtle
variations from a much wider repertoire. Chirps, peeps, whistles, and caws
set routines of feeding, reproduction, nesting, danger, and simple enjoyment
of life to music. Soprano and alto wind chimes hanging from our deck add
clear notes of spontaneous melodies to the euphonious chorus drifting in the
open windows. Voices of neighbors sharing greetings, or collaborating on
projects, or playing outdoors join with busy sounds of lawn mowers, saws and
drills from an industrious neighbor’s shop, and passing cars, trucks, and
aircraft to bear witness to the vast range of needs and activities people
are addressing. Interaction with changes in the weather is heightened, with
necessary attention to mitigating blowing rain and adapting to both brisk
mornings and sultry afternoons. Open windows surrender the relative safety
and comfort of HVAC isolation to a robust engagement with a diverse world of
rich vitality from which we too easily retreat behind closed, latched,
thermo-insulated ones.

Hear the parable of the open windows. Much of our lives we seek
safety and comfort behind whatever will shield us from what often appears to
be a hostile world. Rarely can we completely shut out harsh winds that
buffet us with disease, accidents, malicious actions, and unwanted changes
of many kinds. Cold blasts of sorrow and thoughtlessness intrude and steal
the warmth of love we hope to maintain with our families and the wider
world. Scorching trials threaten the quiet, cool reserve of lives we
endeavor to live well. We are quite accustomed to life in our
climate-controlled comfort zones, so we keep the storm windows in our lives
securely shut and keep our passionate heating and cooling systems turned on.
It is a primary and natural reaction to batten down whatever we can put
between ourselves and the ominous world around us. We can erect safeguards
that may increase our own comfort, but we are likely to miss marvelous
elements of our environment as part of the cost. We fear people who are
different from us, but their voices and experiences can enrich our lives if
only we could hear them more clearly. Experiencing more directly the
inevitable changes in our environment may attune us more responsibly to how
we manage or participate in those changes. If we open windows to the world
around us we may find fresh opportunities to proclaim the wonders of God’s
love and grace so that others can hear and be drawn to share in praise to
God. Is this the season for opening windows in numerous facets of your life?

The Bible doesn’t mention windows very often. Noah sent doves
out from a window he opened in the ark after the rain subsided to search for
God’s restoration of life on dry ground. Eutychus went to sleep in a third
floor window while Paul preached a long, long sermon and fell to the ground.
He was OK after Paul revived him! A few references to tower and Temple
windows say little about the advantages of opening them. We can find
language in the Bible, however, relating the blessings that can be ours by
opening the windows of our lives and letting God’s grace enliven our
environment.

Jesus used a Greek word that means both “wind” and “Spirit” to
explain to Nicodemus how God seeks to transform our lives from stale, deadly
sinning to fresh, eternal communion with Himself. Jesus said: “Only God’s
Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7 Don’t be surprised when I say
that you must be born from above. 8 Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The
Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the
wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.” (John
3:6b-13 CEV) Sometimes the windows of our lives are so tightly closed that
we can barely tell when the wind of God’s Spirit is blowing. By faith in
Jesus we can throw the windows open and allow the fresh breeze of God’s
Spirit to breathe new life into us. Faith even overcomes any allergies we
suppose we may have to God!

Once we unlatch and open the windows of our souls, we have
abundant opportunities to experience the wonders of God’s creation. We can
join our voices with all of the others in our environments to celebrate
God’s love and grace. The psalmist – living in much closer contact with
creation than we do in our shuttered comfort – thrilled to sing along with
diverse voices in praise of God:

All creatures on earth, you obey his commands,
so come praise the Lord!
8 Sea monsters and the deep sea, fire and hail,
snow and frost, and every stormy wind,
come praise the Lord!
9 All mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars,
10 every wild and tame animal, all reptiles and birds,
come praise the Lord!
11 Every king and every ruler, all nations on earth,
12 every man and every woman, young people and old,
come praise the Lord!
13 All creation, come praise the name of the Lord.
Praise his name alone.
The glory of God is greater than heaven and earth. (Psalm 148:7-13 CEV)

What a chorus! You are welcome to sing along . that is, if the windows of
your soul are open enough to hear all of the parts clearly to join in!

Are the windows of your life painted shut? The blessings of
God’s refreshing Spirit blowing through are more than sufficient reason to
work on them. Open the windows!

– J. Edward Culpepper