The endless mounds of rubble and debris lined the narrow street of what had once been the site of many of my fondest childhood memories. A visual example of ruin and destruction sprawled in front of me. Hurricane Michael had ravaged my father’s boyhood homeplace, the place we always came “home” too! It seemed unfathomable that it would never look the same again as it had been rendered all but unrecognizable. My heart sank as I sat gazing through the windshield and I couldn’t help but brush away the warm tears that trickled down my cheeks. I commented how grateful I was that my father wasn’t alive to see the nightmare-ish sight in front of me, and that I knew it would have broken his heart.
As I sat and reflected on the imagery, the utter devastation, chaos, and loss that lay before me, I was reminded of my own young life. I had embarked on my life’s journey with big, fairytale-like plans. I had pictured my own “white picket fence”, my storybook cottage kind of house, and my perfect little family, complete with a “happily ever after” to nicely button things up. In my mind, it probably would even have had a fancy bow tied around it as if it had been a package of sorts commemorating some splendid occasion. Unfortunately, that is not at all how it turned out. What I had dreamed, worked hard to build, what I had planned, planted, nurtured, cared for, and tended once looked just like the scene I now beheld outside the confines and safety of my car.
I wondered how many of the people whose physical homes had been destroyed by this monster hurricane had also once felt the stinging winds of disappointment as their dreams fell around them like a barren wasteland. I wondered how many young wives and mothers were once just like me; shattered, broken, abandoned, and left to scavenge through the rubble of a life now gone to find something, anything, that might help piece things back together again. Life seemed to have played the cruelest of jokes, and the punchline was anything but funny.
In his book, Quest for Character, Chuck Swindoll tells about the process used in biblical times of restoring and mending cracked or broken pottery. Softened by the warmth of rubbing, wax was pressed into cracked earthenware pots, disguising the damaged wares and giving them the appearance of a more perfect piece. Merchants or peddlers could then sell these pieces for a higher price to the unassuming shopper. Once this practice became more widely used, wise and savvy shoppers learned to hold pieces up to the light to expose the hidden cracks. The transparency of the wax allowed the light to shine through. Swindoll encourages us to be transparent and sincere, unashamed, fearless, and forthright about our brokenness, never deceitful or attempting to disguise the pain of our past or difficult life experiences. It is in those broken places of our lives where the brilliance of God’s love and light can shine through the brightest. God can use our brokenness and our transparency for His glory, allowing us to have a unique purpose and use.
There is a beautiful picture of this very concept found in scripture. The New Living Translation says this,
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God and not from ourselves.”2 Corinthians 4:7
In our humanness, we are fragile against the dangers of life; exposed to the torrents of illness, family crisis, death of loved ones, loss of income, wayward children, divorce, abuse, addiction, depression and so many other whirling catastrophic challenges that crack and damage our spirit rendering us ineffective at holding it all together. Our ability to contain love and pour it out on others is lost as we are tossed in life’s storm and sent crashing to the ground, broken and in pieces. But our Father, the Master Potter doesn’t leave us there!
Beauty from Ashes
In His unique and loving way, God renews and restores our broken places. Rather than using a method that just “fixes” us to look as good as new, He accentuates and highlights those broken areas of our life, giving them beauty and value. They become the featured part of our life’s testimony and the most impactful for carrying the treasure of God’s love and light! Our brokenness becomes a brilliant display of God’s workmanship and artistry on the human heart and life!
In ancient Eastern Asia potters developed a process known as “Kintsukuroi”, which means golden-repair. By adding gold to the resin that is used to repair the “flaws” or cracks, they become the most visible part of the pottery. Rather than disguise or cover up the flaws, they become the very thing that draws the attention and appreciation of anyone who looks at it. The golden-repair is obvious and noticeable. In fact, it is even said to demonstrate the masterful skill of the artisan. Something of beauty comes from what was flawed, cracked, or broken.
Potter and Clay
Isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father, the Divine Potter? Isaiah 64:8 identifies Him as such, and we are the clay. He creates an incredible masterpiece out of the heap of debris left in the aftermath of the hurricanes of life. Our disasters break His heart! He carefully mends and fixes the brokenness of our yielded earthen clay vessels, highlighting our flaws and turning them into something worthy of display. Far from ordinary, each life now a beautifully broken “jar of clay” in His hands. Held up to the light of His glory and grace, His love shines forth brilliantly from the cracks and flaws in my life, and yours! We are truly beautifully broken vessels, fit for our Master’s use!
Let us not seek rebuilding and renewal of heart and spirit in an attempt to be looked upon as “perfect”, without flaws. But rather let us celebrate being made worthy because of our flaws and imperfections; for in every crack, every scar, every pain is the golden glow of the Master Potters hands! We are broken vessels; yes, beautifully broken! Amen!
read also: Turning brokenness into blessings