My Army Brother and the Broken Stained-Glass Mirror

A broken mirror with various military ribbons, medals, a triangle flag, and photo reflecting in it with a green and blue stained glass border

There was an elderly man who rummaged all around in his home for a certain object, yet he still couldn’t find it. He went to the hallway of the main entrance, where an old oak staircase led him up to the oak-paneled hallway of the second floor. He briefly passed two bedrooms, then the bathroom with an old water faucet, whose droplets continually hit the sink in perfect cadence. Eventually he remembered having seen what he wanted in the attic. He hurried as much as his weary feet would take him, and carefully proceeded up an old oak staircase leading to the second floor hallway. Then he passed two bedrooms, heading for the white attic door at the end of the hall. His aging hand turned the doorknob until he heard the latch release with a hard “click.” The rusty old hinge pins resisted moving, creating an eerie sound as the door opened. With each step forward, he could smell musty air coming from the attic as he ran his hand along the wooden railing leading up to his private treasure domain that held all his mementos from the past.  

With a strong click, the dim light of a 40-watt bulb broke the darkness. A thick layer of dust covered the memories and treasures from his younger years.                                                                       

The tired fingers of the aging man gripped his favorite walking cane while he pulled the light cord in his other hand. With a strong click, the dim light of a 40-watt bulb broke the darkness. A thick layer of dust covered the memories and treasures from his younger years. Absentmindedly he muttered, “Now what was I looking for?” After a few moments the thought returned to him, and he moved toward several dusty books piled up near the attic’s equally dusty window containing a fine lace curtain of cobwebs, with several spiders actively spinning new webs nearby. 

A open page of an old photo album laying flat with another book on an old wood desk with a bright light overhead

Then he spotted the cover of an old photo album on his maple writing desk. He picked the brown leather album up, quickly wiping off the dust before opening it. Slowly he turned each brittle page while looking at the pictures of his younger years. Many brought back painful moments that had often replayed in his aging mind. Tears formed as he said in a weary voice, “What happened to me? Where did all the time go?” The toll of death was dealing with him as he viewed a photograph of his whole family. Then he saw another one showing his older brother in an army uniform, standing next to his father. His mother stood on the other side of him with her arm wrapped around the small shoulders of a boy about four years old. It was the last photo of him with his older brother that he had. 

Every one of the patch’s fibers was a reminder of the special bond and relationship between his brother and the God he believed in and loved in a unique eternal bonding relationship.

He turned to another page that had a small, square patch of blue fabric with a gold star sewn on the center of it. For a moment, he recalled his grieving mother, her eyes wet with tears, placing it in one of the small front window panes representing death’s great toll on the nation. All who passed by could see it to her son’s glory and honor. Every one of the patch’s fibers was a reminder of the special bond and relationship between his brother and the God he believed in and loved in a unique eternal bonding relationship. Then the elderly man spotted an old, white, business envelope from the War Department in Washington, D. C. It had been hand-delivered to his house long ago by a young, special detail U.S. Army officer, and its important contents conveyed the announcement of something that would bring sorrow to this family. 

A photo of part of the inside of an old attic with an angled wall, three small tables, a small well-lit window, and sunbeams streaming down from a skylight in the roof

Then a sunbeam began streaming through the small, weather-beaten attic window. A spider had spun a fine web there, creating a translucent appearance, and it reflected onto a dusty, broken, stained-glass mirror resting against an empty maple bookcase. A folded American flag triangle, a medal of honor, and military ribbons, all contained in a special glass case, leaned against it. His tired, aging fingers grasped firmly around the walking cane, and the elderly man proceeded toward the bookcase. The audible cadence of the cane striking the dusty attic floor briefly interrupted the silence of the room.  

Ever since he received word of your death, Dad had absolute resentment against God, along with raging anger. The hardness of his heart only brought him bitterness. It was so difficult for him to accept your death.

He came closer to the empty bookcase and then stopped in front of it. For a long while, his aging fingers gently ran over the mementos of his older brother. His eyes begin to shed tears again as he reflected on the love he had for him and the sacrifice that he had made. “Well, big brother, at least I’m able to be near you today for a short time. And it’s almost time for a special occasion where I will soon be there to see you and Mom again in heaven. It was so very hard on Mom that day long ago when she heard the knock on our front door. We opened it and saw a young Army officer standing there. He had come to share the news about you. I was too young to really understand just what was happening. But Mom understood as she turned and wept on Dad’s shoulder when she learned that you had died in the battle of Normandy. She cried out to God as she struggled through the very difficult news of your death. Then she hugged me tight, her eyes still watering, as she reminisced out of her grieving heart concerning her love for you. The officer sat in our father’s reading chair and reached over and opened his briefcase. He then presented your ribbons and battle medals, along with the Congressional Medal of Honor in its specially designed leather case, and several other important items. She took it all and cried even more, because she knew that she had lost her beloved firstborn son forever.

As the years have gone by, I have begun to grasp it all so much better. After I have received the Lord into my life, I was able to see the bigger picture between you, Mom, and God. I also recognize that you accepted Him into your life during your time overseas, decades before I did the same. For a long time I thought that Mom’s crying was mostly over Dad’s unwillingness to accept what had happened to you. I’m sorry that Dad won’t be there with us in heaven, because the bad news of your death hardened his grieving heart, which only strengthened his unbelief. Ever since he received word of your death, Dad had absolute resentment against God, along with raging anger. The hardness of his heart only brought him bitterness. It was so difficult for him to accept your death. But now, big brother, the doctors have given me some bad news about my own death also. I know my time is coming closer and closer to see you and Mom again. The doctors’ test results have given me about three or maybe four days to live. So I rejoice that I will soon be able to see both of you again in our Lord’s presence.

Black and white photo of an older woman wearing a white blouse seated on a sofa looking to a window on the left with an expression of grief

I have subsequently come to realize that Mom’s tears were not only for your loss. They were also for the bond she had with you, symbolized by the precious woven fibers of the flag she received later at your funeral, and by your medals. Those tears were directed toward the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who also shares a special love relationship with His Father. The fibers of His Son’s burial shroud bonded us in an eternal relationship with His Father, by the price of His own death—His atoning shed blood. And “…He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:16-17) where He paid this great price. 

The many facets of the life of the elderly man were reflected in that broken, stained-glass mirror in the attic. Several days after hearing of his brother’s death, his mother suffered a massive heart attack. She was a strong believer in Jesus, and on that day, she went to join her firstborn son, and the Firstborn son of her heavenly Father, in a spiritual love relationship.

He was finally reunited with his brother and mother, because he had entered into an eternal, binding, covenant relationship with God, just as they had, that was made possible by the Heavenly Father’s love for His only begotten Son—Jesus Christ.

Sadly though, the stained-glass mirror had been broken by the elderly man’s father, who refused to give his life to God. He was very angry with Him, and refused to accept his son’s death. He came face-to-face with all the sins of his whole lifetime, including anger, bitterness, hatred, etc. But his biggest sin was blaming God for the death of his son. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). In the end, he had to pay the wages of sin (which is living a life that benefits the sinful self that can only end in death), because he would not repent of his sins and believe in God. “…sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). 

The hidden fibers of the soul of this younger brother could be viewed in relation to this present life, after he touched the bookcase holding the folded American flag triangle, the medal of honor, and the military ribbons. He was finally reunited with his brother and mother, because he had entered into an eternal, binding, covenant relationship with God, just as they had, that was made possible by the Heavenly Father’s love for His only begotten Son—Jesus Christ. The gift of God is life after the Spirit, which ends in eternal life. This refers to all who have passed into another life where they come before the divine presence of the Creator. There are only two choices we can make: to either be a servant of sin, or of God. 

A silhouette of a cross on a small hill with sun, clouds and an orange and blue in the background

“…I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38, 40). It is accomplished, it is paid! God’s work of saving lost man is a complete and finished work carried out on the cross by Jesus. No one can add anything to it by theirgood works so God will accept them. Any attempt we make to improve on the righteousness God has already accounted to us will only spoil things, not help them. God’s work of redeeming us is complete. We can only receive His finished work. The greatest benefit can come to us from the simplest act of faith—believing in Him. 

[Image credits: (Composite image of mirror) gisoft/pixabay, U.S. National Archives/public domain, Circe Denyer/publicdomainpictures, Kira Hoffmann/pixabay; pxhere; Peter H/pixabay; Pavel Danilyuk/pexels; cdoncel/unsplash]