On Being Transparent

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.     Isaiah 64:6a

I don’t do windows.

Well, every few years I try. There will be that bright sunny morning when the light is streaming in, and the need for cleaning is so obvious, I grab the window cleaner, spray bottle, rags, paper towels, and squeegee and get to work. Two or three hours later I throw in the towel (and everything on it) and once more promise myself, never again!

Every summer we go to the house in Michigan that my grandparents built it in the 1940s. It was elegant then and it is still elegant now. Forty-six years ago, my husband Marty and I got married there, and two years ago our youngest daughter was married there. The house has French provincial architecture, fireplaces, a bay window, and French doors that open onto a patio overlooking the lake.

It also has windows that have had a curse put on them. Or maybe it’s just the paint on the frames that dissolves every time any liquid touches it… Each magical little pane is specially made to get dirtier the more it’s wiped. After several attempts at cleaning, the glass will go from mildly dirty to ridiculously streaked on the outside – when you’re looking out. Of course, when you’re outside looking in, all you see are the streaks that are inside. I have on occasion treated the job like an Olympic event, “the Window Sprint” – Can I run outside and get that streak off before I forget where it is? Pretty soon I’m streaked too, with sweat and dirt, and breathless with exasperation. No gold medal here.

(Now please don’t write and tell me how you clean your windows. Believe me, I’ve heard the advice, all about vinegar and newspapers and yada-yadda-yadda… I’ve tried it all.)

A few years ago, we put our house in Port Huron up for sale, and one of the many jobs that needed to be done was … clean the windows. [Insert scary horror movie music here.] When a perfectly gorgeous day came up and I had absolutely nothing on my schedule, there was no excuse to put off the job, however desperately I wished for one.

I was delightfully surprised to find the job was not only effective but surprisingly fun when it actually worked! I found myself singing as I got into the rhythm -squirt-squeegee-wipe, squirt-squeegee-wipe – and pretty soon I was looking around for more windows to clean. At the end of the day, I was standing in the living room, gazing out at the Lake Huron, relishing the fact that the windows were virtually invisible, and I may as well have been standing outside. >Eureka!<

For some reason I took this to mean I now knew how to clean windows, so when we later went to Portage Lake, one bright, sunny day I confidently grabbed my trusty squeegee and began to make the dining room gorgeous, one little pane at a time, forgetting that these windows were cursed… Two hours, one roll of paper towels, one bottle of Windex, and one tantrum later, there was not one pane that was totally clean. I threw up my hands and yelled “I GIVE UP!” followed by a few other things that were probably inappropriate for a Christian to be saying.

Have you been there? I don’t mean just with windows, but anything that you’ve tried to “fix,” that only gets worse the more you try? As I stood there that day, hot and exhausted, scowling at the streaks blocking the view of the beautiful lake, I figured the only way to get a clear view would be just to break the windows. That’s it! Just take out the pains – er, panes – completely, and the view would be great. Of course, that would have made the house a bit drafty and buggy, so Marty didn’t go for that idea.

It occurred to me that I was looking at a picture of sin. The Bible tells us that ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, all of Mankind has been under the curse of sin. For many people, their lives may seem “good enough.” But then the light of God’s truth shines through, and it becomes painfully obvious that we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 6:23) The more we look at our sin, the more it bothers us.

So, what do some of us do? We try to clean up our act. Somehow, we think we can make it right on our own, although it should soon be apparent that if we were so capable of doing good, our lives wouldn’t be such a mess in the first place. After trying to make things right, we see that we have failed, and more often than not, our feeble attempts have made the situation worse than ever. At this point we should see that we can’t do this ourselves. But some of us refuse to believe we’re that helpless. So, we try harder, thinking if we could just try hard enough, we’ll finally clean up our lives.

The bottom line is, we can’t fix the mess ourselves. We have only two choices. We can avoid the Light and hope nobody notices the dirt, or we can go to God and ask Him to help us. Fortunately, He can. In fact, He sent His Son, Jesus, to take all our dirt onto Himself. When He died for us, He was taking our sin and nailing it to the Cross, and we never have to be enslaved by it again. He can make our lives clean, and He can shine His light through us. Isn’t it a relief to know we don’t have to try to clean ourselves up?

I haven’t yet figured out how to get Jesus to do my windows for me, but two years ago before our daughter’s wedding, we did hire a professional exorcist – er, window cleaning service. Now when I look out through the crystal-clear glass and remember how it used to be, I know what a mess I would be without Jesus. I’m just grateful that I’m not without Him, and that He was willing to do what was necessary to make me clean, so He could shine His light through me.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in ourselves we are powerless to clean up our own lives. Thank You that You have not left us on our own, but You have shed Your blood to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, that we can live the lives You want us to live – the lives we truly want. We choose to trust You to shine through us today, in Your power, in Your name. Amen

94 thoughts on “On Being Transparent

  1. Great insights Annie. I love the way you take such everyday activities and tie them to God’s saving action in our lives. We can’t clean up our act by ourselves, and definitely need to accept the fact that we are nowhere without Jesus. You could say that this written “reflection” comes shining through, very clearly!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I love this analogy that has so many layers! Beautifully written and I love how it points to Jesus as the only Cleaner of our dirty souls. Before I knew God I really thought I needed to ‘clean up’ or He’d never accept me but I finally realized I was just making it all worse. This post reminds me of that and the ways I pick up those habits even two decades later. I’ll now remember this whenever I see dirty windows (which is often!) . Thanks 🙏

      Liked by 2 people

  2. As per usual – great story. Funnily enough, as I read, I wanted to tell you: “You need to ask for help. You need to have someone else stand on the other side and wipe the smudges you point out”. I’m glad that kind of was the conclusion.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This is a great post, truly I am nothing but a sinner without Christ. Each time I fall short he still picks me up and cleans me. I guess I would have given up on me a long time ago, just like the windows that were so difficult to clean but then he is so patient and cleans you up when you come to him. Thank you so much for sharing

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Amen!

    As I read this beautiful post all I felt God saying was “surrender.” This here Ann, is a reminder that every thing we do, and hope to accomplish is better when we first surrender. Thank you for the reminder ☺️

    Liked by 4 people

  5. What a beautiful illustration of sin and its cure through Christ. Being a fixer, God reminded me a while back that I can’t fix anything and for me to stop and let Him do it. What a relief when I laid that heavy burden at His feet!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great observation! At the start, my first thought was of how every speck of dust is embarrassingly evident when the sunset light streams in through the front room windows. Makes me want to pull the shades! So I get what you’re saying about the light. We don’t always care to see what’s illuminated. Second, I’ve been thinking of my prayer habits. For so long, I’ve asked the Lord to “help me”, but recently I’ve done what you did when you hired a professional: I give up and tell God to just DO what I really can’t! There are some things I obviously can’t do-even with God’s “help”. David didn’t ask God to help him have a clean heart; he told God to create in him a clean heart. And finally, I’m surprised you didn’t make a pun with “panefully” obvious! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dearest Ann,
    It’s been such a blessing to roam through the (cyber) pages of your story … “On Being Transparent” reminded me of something I wrote a while ago. Thanks for being a light!
    Heidi <

    (Based on a true story)

    Today, I washed windows.
    I scrubbed and I cleaned.
    But the harder I tried
    The messier it seemed.

    I questioned and marveled
    Why spots kept appearing
    Why dirt didn’t move and
    And the filth wasn’t clearing.

    Then in my surprise
    I looked down real close
    I noticed the answer
    At the end of my nose.

    My glasses were smudged.
    Making all efforts vain.
    The windows were clean.
    I was looking through stains.

    I wonder how often
    That happens to me
    I’m polishing others
    And forget to check me.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ann, I just now saw your comment 😦 … of course, share away. The title is “Today I Washed Windows” (clever, hey???🤓) Thanks for continuing to share your love for God the way you do! Real and encouraging!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, we can’t do it ourselves, for if we could, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die on the cross for our sins. But, that doesn’t mean we do nothing or that we don’t have a part in it all. For, Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin that we might live new lives in him free from the control of sin and free from slavery to sin. And, it means that we daily die to sin and live to righteousness, too, all in his power at work within those of us who believe in him as our Lord and Savior. So, we do have a part, like you said, which is to realize we need his help, and so we yield control of our lives over to him, and we let him lead, and in his power and strength we then follow his lead and we do what he says. And, then it works, for we are letting him work through us as we cooperate with that work of grace in our lives.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My my my. What an absolutely beautiful story packed with powerful truths of Christ’s love for us! Indeed, He gives us beauty for our ashes. He makes us His perfect bride – without spot or blemish. The blood of Jesus is always enough! Without Him, we are nothing and have nothing.

    I completely understand your window washing plight. Hubby and I are notorious for allowing the windows to go without scrubs entirely too long. When we finally do – our reaction is always the same as yours – oh wow – THAT’S what it’s supposed to look like? 🤣 Ah well, we try! Makes us appreciate clean windows all the more, doesn’t it? Haha.

    Thank you for sharing this story and your truth. You’re a powerhouse for the Kingdom of God and so very loved!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for making my day, Holly! I haven’t “known” you long – maybe don’t know you at all – but I sense the Lord is in you, blessing others through you. I look forward to meeting you someday (“here, there, or in the air’) and sharing stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved loved this one. I have a window like that one. It has it’s own agenda… and the only way I can get that sorted is for two pairs of hands on either side…
    But you’ve brought out such a clear message. Without Jesus, I be such a right awful mess. Thankyou for this blest post

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I very seldom do windows, and if I do, it’s because we took a window unit out, or I’m wanting to put up window cling decorations for a holiday, or something like that. Even then, I only do 1 or 2, possibly 3, windows and have to content myself with good enough. I don’t have the energy to waste on “cursed” windows! Lol 😁
    Great analogy!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As with everyone else, I commend your post here.

    As for myself, it’s not only how clean my window remains — the real issue centers on whether I have the curtains drawn. If dirt on the outside of the window might be a metaphor for the sin that the Lord by His grace removes, then the curtains might be the actions I know to take, but don’t. Often, I don’t know how the curtains get drawn; however, when I do see them drawn, I try to fix it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a wonderful reminder and I get the whole window thing. Here in AZ during monsoon, you give up on having any kind of clean windows. The rains come mixed with dust so you get the whole idea of how bad they become! Let us remember that only CHRIST can redeem and restore! Thankful for your insight here……you have touched many with your post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. G’day and thanks for sharing! A great prayer as well at the end.

    In regards to getting Jesus to doing your windows…i heard prayer and fasting works lol.

    I loved it when you said “The bottom line is, we can’t fix the mess ourselves. We have only two choices. We can avoid the Light and hope nobody notices the dirt, or we can go to God and ask Him to help us. Fortunately, He can.” -True.

    I am glad to get to read your stuff, i really like your communication style and passion so far!

    Peace to you

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You have a deep conviction in the word of God. You started with a dirty window and ended up exposing the truth that we are all a dirty mess without Christ Jesus. That was just amazing! Thanks for sharing, Annie.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. So glad I dropped into this post…great analogy. I am due to clean the RV window due to much rain There is nothing to make a room shine more then clean windows. One thing I beg God to do is keep the window of my soul clean so I can see any hidden sin that needs repented of and placed under the blood. Amazingly, every time I ask Him for this, He does it and in through different ways each time. Your post is a good testimony of just that. Not only will I clean my rv windows but as I do I will take a look into my inner most through the clear eyes of my Lord. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wise Hearted, I’m glad you stopped by, and I’m SO glad you are applying what you read as you clean the RV windows. Isn’t it great how God can speak to us through some of the most mundane activities? When I weed my garden I tend to focus on the “weeds” in my life – things that are a waste of space, time, resources, and mental energy, and I ask God to get them out of my life.


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