I had the opportunity to travel to Japan recently and had a confrontation with a beautiful piece of pottery. As we walked up an ancient road to visit a temple we popped into a pottery shop to escape the oppressive heat and enjoy the air conditioning. As I soaked up the cool air, a small corner of the shop caught my eye. It contained a series of shelves filled with pottery in the style of Kintsugi.
Wikipedia describes Kintsugi as, “the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with laquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold or platinum. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.”
This wasn’t the first time I had heard of Kintsugi, but it was the first time I saw it outside of a museum. This first time I could pick up the object and hold it in my hands and run my finger over the golden filled cracks, and investigate it thoroughly. And as I did, God took this opportunity to confront me and align my heart with His. Here is what He said:
1. Our brokenness doesn’t diminish our value. When things are broken the creator doesn’t change His mind about the purpose and plan for the creation. He doesn’t simply dispose of the broken pieces but carefully puts it back together.
2. Our brokenness is simply a part of the whole created piece as told by the healing brush of the Creator. The Creator doesn’t use inferior elements to reform the creation. He uses the most valuable and precious to add value and beauty to the piece.
3. Our broken pieces are valued by the Potter. He assembles them and restores them to a whole and new condition. The creation cannot fix/heal itself. A healing/restoration process is essential.
4. Brokeness isn’t hidden. It’s put on display after it’s been properly cared for and healed by the Potter.
I stood there, listening to God , staring down a small bowl, because sometimes other people’s brokenness can make me feel afraid or hopeless. I had quietly started to give up on God’s ability to put them back together again. And, if I’m being really honest, maybe I’d been hiding my own brokenness from the Creator because I wanted to be seen as whole and useful. I was uncomfortable with others’ brokenness because I was uncomfortable with my own.
In this little shop, no bigger than a closet, I thanked God that He doesn’t give up on broken people, and I offered Him my broken pieces; to touch them and fill them with His healing, glory, and beauty. As I did that I felt this amazing hope and grace for my journey and others’ journeys from brokenness to wholeness. I asked Him to give me the ability to view brokenness and see value instead of just a mess to clean up.
John Wimber said, “The church isn’t a museum for the saints, but a hospital for the sick.” I believe God is calling us to be people who see value and not mess; who can partner with His hope for a broken world and be fearless in the face of the world’s brokenness. It starts with my own brokenness, and my willingness to acknowledge it, and allow the Potter to heal me instead of hiding it from view. May we trust Him to put us all back together again.