While I was in the Philippines in 2004, Miriam orchestrated, with the help of several friends in the church, the redecoration of my office. I had worked in it for months with it looking like a bomb shelter that had taken a direct hit. Two walls, invaded by outside moisture, had to have the plaster knocked completely off, with the west wall having only lath left and the northern wall being a rough, ugly brick of several varieties. The gray indoor-outdoor carpet was worn through in spots, stained, and dust-ridden. The two windows were both stained glass, but the glass had been broken in spots, the wood was rotting around the frames, and the lack of light was depressing. On the very day I arrived, Miriam took me that afternoon to the church, where I was met by a surprise party of dear friends and family in my new office, whch had been utterly transformed. It had freshly dry walled and painted walls, all color-coordinated with the new carpet and office chairs that were recovered in a sharp royal blue. New bookshelves lined my walls, where my books could finally display themselves appropriately rather than being double-stacked or piled somewhere. And I had new vinyl windows. I was bone-tired from my journeys, but rejoiced then and still do today over my inspiring surroundings.
Many have spoken in admiration of my office, but then have also followed their compliments with laughing comments on my view out the window. From my desk I look out on an alley filled with trashcans, and an old house that has been turned into several apartments. The clientele living there can be somewhat sordid. My suspicions about drug activity were confirmed when I watched the police kick in the door to one of the apartments to bust a meth lab set up in there just a month or two ago. The rest of the day men in safety suits went in and out carrying paraphenalia around the yellow police tape. Even this morning the police were here again, as a long-haired, tattoed fellow seemed to be upset about something stolen from him. This afternoon some grungy, cussing folks moved out so that, if the past is any indication, some more grungy, cussing folks can move in. The view out my desk window could be seen as not very inspiring, especially compared to my comfy, studious-looking surroundings.
Yet I’m thankful for this reminder outside my window. For it does inspire me. I’m reminded by it that though we are not to be of this world, we are to be in it. I look at the riches I possess, represented in these books that surround me containing treasures of wisdom that my ancestors in the faith have handed down to me, and I see how poor those right outside my window are. I pray to my heavenly Father, who has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, and ask that the gospel would be known by those I see outside my window. This view reminds me that the Lord did not save our building from the eminent domain issues earlier this year just so we can only worship in comfort in it, but also so we could use it to reach those who are lost.
And, almost everyday, I remember again that is only by His grace I’m looking out this window instead, as I once did and too many of my neighbors still do, of not even caring to look in.