Stained Glass Window of Life

By Miriam Rossow, Communications Coordinator

The first stained glass I created was during my Jr. High years, a simple design of a flower that used big pieces of glass. As Jr. High students working with glass for the first time we did not have the skill set to create a very intricate design. (Or at least I did not.)

The second time I had the opportunity to create a stained glass window I was a young adult in my first years of teaching. This time, although I did not have any more experience, I decided I would try something slightly more complicated. Really the design was still very simple: I used only rectangles and squares, and therefore only straight cuts. I made it slightly more complicated by using more colors and making the pieces smaller which meant the glass was more fragile and delicate to handle.

Creating a stained glass window is a slow process. You begin with a design, which involves drawing and coloring what you are hoping to create. Once you have chosen your colors and shapes on paper, you need to choose the correct glass for both color and texture.

When you have chosen the right glass, you need to enlarge your design to a size which allows you to lay a piece of glass over the design and begin the cutting process. Once the glass pieces are all cut, you lay them together and use a soldering iron to secure the joints with lead. (This is, of course, a very quick explanation of a tedious and careful process.)

I recently had the opportunity to color a very intricate stained glass window page of visual art. The page comes from Ponder Anew a Hymn Journal of Trust and Confidence from Next Step Press and Visual Faith Ministries. It reminded me of the two large stained glass windows from the Sanctuary, the Great Commission and the Great Commandment windows. These windows share God's great love for His people by depicting images of events in the life of Jesus.

The window I was coloring in my Ponder Anew book also depicted images of Jesus life. The window was made up of six smaller panes each hosting a picture from Jesus life and symbols of God's continued love for us. Each picture had its own pane of individual pieces that made up the picture. Behind the picture were squares and rectangles creating a window with in the window, and behind that were triangles and parallelograms making up the bigger window pane. Around all of those panes and images was a border of smaller rectangles. As I said it was intricate and certainly not something I would try making into an actual stained glass window.
As I colored I thought about all of the decisions that we make in our lives each day. Each of those decisions connects with another decision-- a decision by us, our family, or another person that we may or may not know. I suppose that is why decisions feel so big and daunting: we realize how our decisions can affect the lives of other people, but we can't always see how they connect.

When I make a decision in my life, I don't always know how that will affect other people. We make decisions with the best information that we have; and sometimes the information we have feels like it is just the color of the piece of glass next to us. We can't always see how the decision we make fits into the design as a whole.

I am thankful that God is the artist of my picture. I don't have to know how each decision affects the next one.  I can be confident that as I make decisions based on the best information in front of me, even if the information is limited to what I can see right next to me, that the Spirit of Jesus will take those decisions and make them work to God's glory and to the good of the people around me. Jesus will use my decisions to make His beautiful picture.

I am not the artist, God is the artist. God sees the whole picture; and God sees how each decision, color or shape, connects to and affects those around it. God is capable and willing to move shapes or choose a different color to get the end result that is the most beautiful picture for each of us. And my decisions matter to the overall design. The color scheme makes a difference and there are colors that go better next to each other. Even as the colors matter, the Artist is in control and can move and make changes as He sees necessary.

So I live in the grace of knowing that as I make decisions, I can do so with the knowledge that Jesus is working in and through those decisions for me and those around me to create a beautiful picture. God does not just leave my decisions up to me at random. The Holy Spirit shows me the parts of the picture that help me make the decision. I am not required to make the exact right decision. I am asked to look at the colors and the part of the picture that I can see and make the decision that seems to fit best. And when I have 'messed up' or made a 'wrong' decision, Jesus can, and will use even that 'mistake' for His glory in His picture!

I was recently offered a position to teach 5th-8th grade Language Arts and 5th grade homeroom at St. Paul Lutheran School in Ann Arbor. This is the school that my children have attended since we moved to Michigan 7 years ago. We have roots at that school. As Justin and I prayed and tried to make a decision about this job offer I saw just enough of the picture to see that this was the next right decision for us. I have accepted this offer to teach at St. Paul and will be stepping down as Communications Coordinator and Children's Music director at Christ Our Savior.

I thank Christ Our Savior for the opportunity to share Jesus with each of you, adults and children. I thank you for being willing to let me help you share Jesus with the community and each other through your stories of faith, hope, and love in Jesus. I pray you will continue to share your stories with those around you. Your story helps other people see a part of the God's picture of love for all.

I am excited to take this next step. And I am so thankful that I don't have to be in charge of the overall design! Each decision is difficult enough on its own. I'll do my best to make a decision that makes sense from what I can see of the design.

How will this decision will compliment the colors around it? Who will be the next piece in your stained glass at Christ Our Savior? I look forward to seeing how God will work and move through these decisions!

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