So I was at a gathering of the Minnesota senior high youth this past weekend which is called UMYS. I have been to this gathering as a youth, as an adult chaperone, as a youth director, as a pastor, and now as an associate pastor.
This weekend was filled with great conversation, a great speaker (our bishop), great music (Boiling Point), and a great group that went from our church. There are many things I could write about from the weekend, but one has been mulling through my head today as I sat at home with my oldest son Micah who was sick. The closing worship on Sunday morning involved a “testimony” from one of the members of the design team who is a senior in high school (well actually she just graduated early which is an amazing accomplishment).
I admired this girl who shared her story. It took guts because her story was filled with hurt, pain, and brokenness. She had experienced abandon from a father (something I can identify with), sexual abuse from a family friend, and a battle with drug abuse. It took guts for her to stand in front of a room composed of mainly strangers and share her story and she ended her story with a quote from scripture she plans on having tattooed on her wrist and a scripture that the Bishop had quoted earlier in one of her messages. The passage was from Romans 12:21:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NIV)
It is a powerful passage. This girl’s story was one that communicated how she was trying to overcome the evil she had experienced by trying to do good. This got me thinking. My life too has been marked by pain, loss, and brokenness. I have experienced abandonment by a father, emotional abuse by a step-father, my own battle with addiction, etc. Both this girl and my stories have been marked by the stain of sin. Some of the stains are of our own doing and some of the stains are there because of what others did but either way there are stains. In fact all of us have lives marked by stains.
Well the office administrator of our church sent me an email this morning of some pictures someone had taken of some of the stained glass in our church. I am not a huge fan of stained glass, but I cannot deny the beauty of the stained glass. Well the email got me thinking about how the “stains” in our lives, whether of our own doing or not, can be transformed and used by God in beautiful ways that make them brilliant just like stained glass windows. Our lives filled with stains can be transformed in such a way that people can look and see such amazing beauty through those stains. That is what I was able to see in this young woman’s story…I saw beauty of transformation. She was a living stained glass window. She is truly trying to overcome evil with good and in the process she is allowing God to transform her into an amazing beautiful story.
I think that is something we could all learn from. We can let the “stains” of our lives (those things of evil) overcome us and we can get stuck or we can allow God to transform those stains into something beautiful as we try to overcome evil with good. We all have a chance to become living “stained glass windows.”