What is the purpose of a window?
Windows allow us to see outside of whatever we are inside of: house, building, or cars. If there was no window, the outside would still be outside. There would still be trees, grass, and birds. The outside doesn’t change because of a window. The window doesn’t create the outside, it simply allows us to see what is already outside.
My house is on a hill and we have lots of windows in the living room and kitchen area. As I look out the windows in the kitchen, the sunrise in the morning comes right up over the tree line in the distance. Because we are on a hill, we sit up some from the houses around us and I get a clear view of the sunrise in the morning. I can see the first rays of color come across the sky every morning. It’s truly beautiful. The window allows me to see the beauty. When I’m looking outside at the sunrise, I’m not looking at the window; I’m looking past the window. The sunrise was always there, it’s just that the window allows me to recognize its beauty.
The building where the church community that I serve gathers on Sundays is an old metal building. There are only a couple of windows, and they all face the front of the building. That means that many rooms don’t have a window at all, such as my office. A couple of years ago I had dropped my children off at school and arrived at the building to start sermon prep. I was working for a couple of hours when I received a mass text message from my daughters’ school that informed me the school was closing in twenty minutes and I need to come pick up my children. I was shocked. Why in the world would the school close in the middle of the day. I decided to leave my office and walk toward the foyer where I could see outside and I instantly knew what was going on. At some point in the morning it had started snowing, and the snow was accumulating quickly. I ran back to my office, grabbed a couple of books and my computer, and headed out the door to pick up my children. It had clearly been snowing for awhile, but I was oblivious to what was happening around me because I couldn’t see it. If there had been a window in my office, I would have recognized the snow earlier and been prepared for school to cancel. Because I had no window, I was not paying attention to what was happening around me.
God is all around us. God is always working. The problem is that we get so distracted with career, family, activities, or social media that we don’t pay attention to what is around us. We spend our time filling our lives with so many different activities, many of which are good activities, but distracting none the less, that we fail to notice the God of the universe who is longing to be in relationship with us. We get so distracted with our lives that it’s as if we are sitting in a room of four walls unable to see the beauty of the world around us because we have no windows to notice the outside world
Spiritual Disciplines serve as windows allowing us to see God around us. God is always available. God is always present. God doesn’t go away on a trip, disappear, or try to hide from us. No, God is always around. The problem is we allow other things to distract us. We allow stress and life to erect walls around us, and we get boxed in to our own little worlds. Meanwhile, God is just beyond the walls, but we can’t see God because we have no way to view God. Spiritual disciplines, however, provide a window allowing us to see God. Through prayer, meditation, silence, scripture reading, and fasting we open our souls up to see and hear God speaking to us. The goal is not the discipline. The goal is not fasting or silence or prayer. The goal is to allow these practices to serve as windows to see the God who is always present, but who so often we fail to notice. As we learn to see God more, and as we place ourselves in God’s presence, the love of the Father slowly transforms us through the spirit into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another.
Spiritual disciplines are thus important ways to see God. We need these practices in our lives. Not because these practices make us better Christians. But because these practices place us in a position to see and experience God.