When I was thirteen, I accidentally broke a very expensive piece of my parents’ pottery. The artist had just passed away, so the value shot up just in time for my rough housing to take it back down. My parents were unhappy, to say the least. When I received the dad-repaired pottery bowl as a wedding gift eight years later, I kept it on my coffee table to centerpiece my history as a clumsy, rough-housing teenager.
Not long after I was gifted the pottery, an incomplete redecorating job combined with a pitch black room presented the perfect opportunity for my misplaced step to smash the pottery bowl, this time separating it into three large pieces.
I was devastated, taken back to thirteen in painful waves, reliving the first time I told my parents I had fractured the value of their pottery collection. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that history had repeated itself, so my husband came up with a plan. “The pottery broke,” he told Dad, never offering a culprit or any explanation for the new cracks. I was praying to be in the clear.
To our surprise, Dad was elated. “How perfect is God’s timing? I was just reading about an old repair process for broken pottery like this!”
As I battled the urge to proudly confess my role in God’s timing, Dad explained a bizarre new word: Kintsugi, he described, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with glue and gold. Instead of throwing away the shattered piece, the artist repairs them. Instead of hiding the repairs, the artist highlights them. No pieces thrown away, no imperfections left uncovered.
I presented kintsugi as a metaphor to the High Point youth a couple weeks ago, asking them to list people from the Bible who illustrated a kintsugi-style life repair. Here are the answers we developed along with the attributes that qualified each person for the list:
- Moses (frustration, insecurity, anger)
- Gideon (doubt, insecurity)
- David (envy, deception, self-gratification)
- Jonah (prejudice, hypocrisy, disobedience)
- Samaritan “woman at the well” (unfaithfulness, rejection)
- Peter (impulsiveness, cowardice)
- Saul/Paul (persecution, brutality)
This list is not comprehensive, of course, but it doesn’t take every story in the Bible for us to recognize cracks and weaknesses we’ve seen in ourselves. Thankfully we aren’t left alone to fall to those weaknesses!
While studying about the kintsugi process, I came across 2 Corinthians 12:9.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)
Boast about my weaknesses? Why would I do that? I am liberated, restored, and made strong.
In the same way that the focus of Kintsugi is the beautiful gold, not the cracks, the focus here is not on weakness; it is on God’s power, “My power is made perfect in weakness. . . . Christ’s power may rest on me.”
The cracks and jagged pieces you perceive in your life are not throwaways. They are areas that you need to let God piece together and cover with His strength and grace. What you can’t do on your own is what makes you ideal for what you are called to do. It’s an opportunity for God to do it all through you.
Gideon’s life is an excellent example of God’s power in our weakness. When God calls him to lead, Gideon responds, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15 NIV).
What did God said to that? Oh, I guess you’re right... I didn’t think of that. I should probably use someone stronger and more gifted in leadership than you. NO. God assures Gideon, “I will be with you” (Judges 6:16 NIV). He is telling Gideon that being the “least” is no limitation. Gideon’s weakness will not hinder God’s plan for his life but will instead make a no-questions statement that God won the victory.
God chose you for the task, and He will do through you what you cannot do on your own. When you are weak, He is strong.
The kintsugi-ed pottery bowl now hangs in my house as a reminder:
- With God, I am confident, likeable, capable, patient, faithful, obedient, and everything I need to be to accomplish His plan for my life.
- God has repaired my shattered pieces, covered me with gold, and made me even more valuable.
- God’s power is made all the more apparent through my weaknesses. They are a space for Him to fill with His strength and cover with His grace.
God’s grace is at work. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.