When I was a child, one of the things I loved the most about Christmas was doing crafts with my mother. Along with my sisters, we would make fabulous ornaments. One year, my family worked with beads, another year we painted ceramics. Every craft project was fun, but the one I enjoyed the most was the stained-glass ornaments. As Mom helped me, I carefully poured little bits of colored glass into metal frames, and then Mom baked the ornaments in the oven. After the glass melted and cooled, I was able to hold my stained-glass masterpieces up to the window and watch the sunlight streaming through the beautiful colors. I felt like Picasso. I felt talented! I was invincible! I was Queen of the World!
The years passed, and when I was in 5th grade, I decided that I wanted to make stained-glassed ornaments again—but this time I wanted to make them without ANY help from my mother. After all, I was practically grown up, and I knew how to handle an oven. My mom quirked an eyebrow at my cocky declarations, but she just cautioned me to be careful and let me alone. Being a middle schooler, I reacted by rolling my eyes. Of course, I would be careful. Sheesh!
Feeling VERY mature, I carefully arranged the stained glass beads in their metal frames on the cookie sheet. My work was flawless. It was beautiful. It was the epitome of perfection. With a smug smile at my mother, I pushed the cookie sheet into the oven with flourish. What happened next was inevitable; the corner of the cookie sheet got caught on the oven rack and all the glass beads slid off the tray onto the bottom of the oven. I was horrified.
As the beads melted into a stained-glass mess on the bottom of the oven, I waited for my mother’s reaction. She didn’t yell or even sigh. She just got a butter knife and helped me carefully scrape up the mess. When we were done, I found myself looking at her in a new way—not as a child rebelling against authority—but as a child feeling love for someone worthy of respect.
I learned a lot that day. I learned that I wasn’t invincible, that warnings should be heeded, that the fun of crafts is doing them together, and most of all, I learned that my mother is the nicest woman in the world. Looking back on it; however, I also learned an important lesson about God. Down through the years, there have been times when I’ve told God to back off and let me handle things on my own—usually because I haven’t wanted to follow His instructions. Inevitably, I end up falling on my face, and when I do, God doesn’t yell or sigh or make me feel small. He just fetches a butter knife and helps me clean up the mess. And each time He does, I realize that God isn’t just wonderful—He’s also KIND.
Whenever I look at stained-glass, I think about my mother who didn’t rebuke me when she had the chance. And I also think about our kind God who never turns His back on us when we make a mess.
“But You are merciful and gentle, Lord, slow in getting angry, full of constant lovingkindness and truth.” Psalm 86:15