Although it is the smallest room in our home–long and narrow, with windows lining two sides–our den has always been my favorite room in our home. It is a wonderful place to observe squirrels running and birds of all sorts swooping between the trees and feeders in our backyard. I especially love watching the first snow of the season quietly sift down and the contrasting scarlet beauty of cardinals against the sparkling whiteness–it leaves me breathless every single time. Best of all, our den has been a quiet place to reflect, read, write or to spend time with a friend.
But what if there were no windows in that room? Would the den have the same appeal? Humanly, I tend to think not . . . especially as I peruse a small bird book left by the previous owners of our home. In that book, the visits of unusual birds sighted through our den windows have been recorded since the 1950’s. Over the thirty years we have lived here, our family has excitedly added to that little book, our own sightings of various rare visitors.
Yet, I am challenged by the wisdom of John Newton*, who wrote about windows and light from a spiritual perspective more than two hundred years ago:
“All houses from the king’s to the laborer’s,
however they differ to other circumstances, agree in this:
that they must have windows whereby they may receive the light.
A palace without a window would be little better than a dungeon;
and a man would almost think himself buried alive in it.
Many splendid houses are dungeons with respect to spiritual light.
A believer would not bear the thoughts of living in any situation,
unless he enjoyed the light of the Sun of Righteousness,
and with this any situation is tolerable.”
(From Letters of Newton, pg. 138)
Where we tend to think about windows and light from a purely surface perspective, Newton urges us to go deeper by thinking in spiritual realities.
Indeed, apart from the blessing of a faith that sees beyond the immediate to the eternal,we are all short-sighted as to recognizing the blessings being worked out by God in this day of uncertainty.
The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote his second letter to his friends in Corinth:
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made His light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ. . . .
Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Now comes what is the “to do” part of opening up those spiritual windows:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
II Corinthians 4:6, 15-18
There have been seasons when I have looked out our den windows and saw nothing but a dark hopelessness because of the heaviness of my heart–perhaps you have been there too? Indeed, in such times when Christ seems furthest away, we all experience that spiritual dungeon Newton referred to in his letter. Yet is has been during such times of despair, when I have opened my Bible–determined to focus not on my despair but on His Face–that the spiritual light and comfort of hope have ultimately prevailed. It has been during such seasons that our den has provided,
- A shelter to prayerfully confront the various storms that have threatened
- It has served as a place to receive comfort and ultimate healing as God’s light has strengthened me in my brokenness.
Best of all, our den has been a place of celebration, as God’s Divine Will has been worked out though those storms, to draw me and those I love closer to Him.
Having suffered through the perils of facing cancer among family and friends during the past year, and still suffering the loss of several of them, I was grateful for John Newton’s wisdom as it opened up the windows of my mind and heart to appreciate the spiritual realities of God’s Sovereign Goodness. The good news is that you do not need a special room to open the windows of your mind and heart. The light and hope found only through faith in Jesus, will open wide those spiritual windows as you determine to trust in Him.
Romans 15:13 is one of those windows in Scripture that saved me out of a season of darkness and fear; I pray that it will do the same for you:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
All to His Glory!
*John Newton, author of the classic hymn, “Amazing Grace” wrote his letter in 1774.