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. I love this post.
    I think that there a lot of Christians out there who think they have to take everything on themselves, and I get that because we are constantly told to look out for ourselves but I believe that it’s important to surrender and know when to let go and let God.
    I have had moments where I have tried to figure things out by myself (I’ve been that person trying to scrub the window endlessly until it’s clean) and failed because I didn’t realise that I needed God’s guidance and His presence.
    I’m more spiritual than I am religious but whenever I pray, I always ask God to walk with me side by side because He really does know best.
    Thanks for sharing this message Ann, this post was beautifully written.
    Kelle – http://www.itskellesspace.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been there (many times), too. I’m not sure what you mean by “spiritual” and “religious,” but personally I cringe when anyone calls me “religious.” Jesus’s most rabid enemies were those of the religious establishment. Making favor with God a matter of works gives the party in charge a huge amount of control over the people. Grace (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense), on the other hand, gives freedom – freedom from fear, freedom from self-loathing, freedom to love the Lord with all your heart and without doubt, because all the “crud” has been paid for and all of God’s wrath was poured out at the Cross.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, Kelle.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this post, Annie.
    Over the years, I’ve seen your sweet comments on Bill’s blog, Unshakable Hope. I’ve never ventured out to read some of your blogs, until today. So glad I did. The title of this one caught my eye, and spoke to me. Such a great analogy. Thank you for your friendship and encouragement to Bill.


    1. Mary, I am just now seeing this comment! I received a comment that I wanted to respond to and couldn’t, so I asked Word Press about it. They sent me to this page with over 100 past comments I had never seen! I knew I was “technologically challenged,” but I have no idea how all these ended up here! Also found out before I saw yours that if I click on “Approve,” they disappear before I can answer them. Anyway, thanks so much (very belatedly) for your sweet comment. I have thought a lot about you lately. I hope you are doing well. You know what an inspiration you are to so many.


      1. Hi Annie! I had to reread your blog again. I remembered reading it, and how it spoke to me. I can totally relate to the technically challenged part! There are some blogs that won’t let me comment or like on my phone but I do it from my computer. I haven’t even learned how to post a blog yet! Thanks for taking the time reach out, and for your encouragement.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I do the same thing, Mary. Some posts I respond to on my laptop, like when I want to send a link, but when I want to include an emoji, I have to do it from my phone, because the laptop just does the basic ones, like a smiley face made with a colon and parentheses.


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