The Japanese have an ancient practice of mending broken pottery with gold. This practice started with the story of a rich man with a special broken teacup. He sent the cup away to be repaired, and it was returned stapled together: both ugly and unusable. Another craftsman found a way to repair the cup by mixing gold powder into resin, patching it to be more beautiful as well as more valuable. The understanding is that the object is even stronger and more valuable because of its brokenness repaired.
Many of us understand the biblical principle of growing through difficulty, but knowing the truth is different than embracing the truth. Pain is not a pleasant experience, but God promises that he will not waste our pain.
C.S. Lewis says, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Through the years I’ve often said that I see myself as a funnel – a cheap, plastic funnel. My job is to keep it clean (through repentance and keeping a pure heart) so that when God flows something into me, it can pour out of me onto others without being altered. I don’t want my junk to flow onto other people! I want to deal with my junk so blessing can flow cleanly through me.
As I was preparing for a mission trip recently, God revealed to me that it’s quite a bit different than I had pictured in my mind. I am not a cheap, plastic funnel (and neither are you, by the way). God paid full-price for each of us when he willingly took our sins upon himself on the cross to forgive us. We are each exquisitely formed, with intricate detail. There are cracks and crevices in each of us that have been formed by our wounds and painful, as well as joyful, experiences.
If we ask him to, God brings healing, mending our brokenness and pain. Until healing is complete, his light of grace shines through our broken places, as he expertly works to repair our hearts. And as only a master craftsman can do, like the Japanese potter using gold, God refines us and makes us even more precious than we were before. Every experience we walk through is used to make our funnels unique in design and function, especially crafted for the master to flow in us and through us.
That’s why God uses multiple people in his economy and not just one. We are uniquely crafted to fulfill his purposes and plans. We aren’t carbon copies. We aren’t replicas of another. That is why ministry is unique as it flows through us. He has individual anointing for each of us, and individual ways it will be altered as it flows through our experiences and our funnels.
In 1 Samuel 16, the story is told of the anointing of the eventual King David. God told Samuel to anoint a new king, as Saul had rejected God’s ways. The prophet was told to visit the home of Jesse in Bethlehem, because one of his sons was God’s choice. When Samuel arrived, Jesse lined up seven sons, but as Samuel stood before each one with the anointing oil and asked God if this was the one; God said no each time. Samuel again asked Jesse if those were all of his sons, and he told him he had one more out in the fields with the sheep. Certainly he couldn’t be the one. But Samuel insisted, so Jesse called for him to come. And sure enough, he was the one.
The anointing oil wouldn’t flow for anyone but David. God has a special anointing for each of us. Don’t be jealous of someone else’s gift, ministry, or purpose. God won’t give someone else what is meant for you. Jealousy is so ridiculous in this light! Each of us have our own design, opportunity, and ability for effectiveness.
God uses broken things every day. And broken people too. Isn’t it about time to ask the master craftsman what he can do about some of those cracks? He’s on-call all day and night today.
Photo via Flikr and Photographer Joanna Bourne